Missouri Boss Sentenced for $18,500 Embezzlement

U.S. Dist. Judge Ortrie D. Smith (W.D. Mo., Clinton) sentenced admitted union embezzler  J. Steven Call Apr. 23 to five years probation, 250 hours of community service and ordered him to make full restitution of $18,536. Call was the president of Am. Fed’n Musicians Local 150, which represented entertainers in Mo., Kan., Okla., and Ark. Call pled guilty Nov. 29 and admitted embezzling funds from the Branson, Mo., based local .

His scheme ran from Apr. 1997 to Mar. 1999. The local was first placed in trusteeship by the int’l union due to financial difficulties in 1995. Then as the the trusteeship was ending, int’l trustee Theresa Gafford made a poor judgment and groomed Call to run the local. He was elected president and secretary-treasurer in Apr. 1997. In an apparent cost-cutting move, Call relocated the local’s office to his leased house in May 1997. He received no salary from the local, but the local’s board agreed to pay him $100 for rent and utility-related costs of running the local out of his home plus any expense he incurred in the course of his work for the local.

Call did not have a personal checking account during the entire period in question. Instead, Call used Local 150’s checking account as if it were a joint account. He wrote checks to himself, his disabled wife, other relatives, and cash for his personal benefit. According to the plea agreement he also used the checking account for personal groceries, restaurant meals, books, magazines, compact disks, videos, household supplies (e.g., diapers, toothpaste), school pictures, toys, fishing gear, clothing, cable, and dues for memberships in the Int’l Ass’n of Elec. Inspectors and the Building Code Ass’n. Further, while the local’s office occupied one room of the house, the union paid Call’s full rent and electric, sewer, trash, and water bills in excess of the agreed $100 amount.

More than 300 checks were involved. Also, Call admitted to making false entries on check stubs and monthly financial reports to conceal the personal nature of some of the expenses. In total, he took $21,936.50 from the local’s account for his personal use but deposited $3,400 into the account; thus, the net embezzlement was $18,536.50. Call was removed from office on Mar. 1999 by the int’l union. The int’l then closed down the local in 2000 and assigned its members to Local 257 in Nashville. [DOL 4/23/02; USAO W.D. Mo. 12/17/01]