U.S. Dist. Judge Tucker L. Melançon (W.D. La., Clinton) sentenced Willie R. Walker, ex-secretary-treasurer of the Int’l Longshoremen’s Ass’n Local 1349 in Lake Charles, La., Apr. 18 to one year and one day in federal prison for a $91,423.11 union embezzlement. Walker pled guilty Jan. 25 to one-count of union embezzlement after being indicted Nov. 16 on the one embezzlement count and one count of falsifying union records. Melançon also order the ex-boss to pay $68,423.11 in outstanding restitution and three years on supervised release after prison. .
Walker embezzled the funds for his personal use between Jan. 1997 and Dec. 2000. He took money on a monthly basis by signing his name on checks to himself for fictitious union expenses to himself and by forging the name of James Pettieway, Local 1349’s ex-president. Wayne Blanchard, Walker’s attorney, asked Melançon to impose a sentence less stringent than the sentencing guideline range of 12 to 18 months in jail. Walker took out a $21,000 loan to help make restitution and tried to take additional loans, which Blanchard argued qualified as an extraordinary effort to make up for his crimes and under the guidelines such extraordinary actions would make Walker eligible for special consideration.
Asst. U.S. Atty. Stephanie Finley didn’t object to Blanchard’s argument. But Melançon said he is bound to follow the guidelines, even though he sometimes thinks they are wrong. He said the government’s position in this case amounts to “punting.” Under that logic, Melançon said, “I could do anything I want as long as the government doesn’t object. I can’t cheat intellectually a little bit in my own mind,” he said. Walker might have done all he could to make amends for his crimes, Melançon said, but that doesn’t qualify as extraordinary. Melançon told Walker that he cannot overlook the fact that money was stolen from fellow union members. “You violated a pretty sacred trust,” the judge said.
Blanchard further argued that Walker should only be sent to a halfway house, saying he should get credit for taking responsibility for the crime and making early efforts to pay the money back. Melançon aptly retorted that Walker tried to do right only after being “caught with his hand in the cookie jar.” [Advocate (Baton Rouge) 4/19, 4/22/02; USAO W.D. La. 4/18/02]
Atlanta Boss Gets Six Months for $90,000 Thefts
Steven Jones, ex-business manager and ex-secretary-treasurer of Int’l Ass’n of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 387 in Atlanta, was sentenced Apr. 11 to six months imprisonment and three years probation and was ordered to pay restitution of $90,000. He admitted Oct. 11 to embezzling $29,724.73 from the union and $39,949.42 from an union apprenticeship fund.[DOL 4/11/02]