Cleveland Boss Gets 18 Months for $144,900 Theft

U.S. Dist. Judge Donald Nugent (N.D. Ohio, Clinton) sentenced Richard Adams Apr. 19 to 18 months in federal prison for stealing $144,939.46 in union funds and donations, including money collected for the family of a slain police officer. Adams, who was the treasurer of Int’l Ass’n of Fire Fighters Local 639 in Parma, Ohio, for 13 years, often told members that their money was safe and earning 13% interest in bank accounts. Instead, Adams looted the local’s accounts for his own purposes and left the local $12,000 in debt when he was ousted in Dec. 2000.

Local 639 president Nick Kashi told Nugent that the local could have fulfilled dreams but for Adams. “Would we own a union hall today to hold our meetings, children’s Christmas parties and other union-sponsored events to raise money for local charities and public relations events? The possibilities are almost endless. We will never know where our union could have been today,” he said. Later Nugent told Adams, “The members will never be made whole. They had plans. They thought things were being done. This is really a black eye on the firefighters, even though they didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Union officials learned something was wrong in Oct. 2000, when the IAFF dropped the local for not paying dues. Adams has paid back $64,000 to the local, and Nugent ordered him to repay $40,000 by Apr. 26. Adam’s attorney John B. Gibbons urged Nugent to give Adams only a year and a day in prison because he cooperated with authorities. He pled guilty to a related bank fraud count on Jan. 28. But, Asst. U.S. Atty. John Siegel said the cooperation did not warrant such a light sentence. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 4/20/02]