The frmr. bookkeeper of Transport Wrkrs. Union Local 234 will plead guilty to embezzling nearly $100,000 with an unnamed official. Percella Roper’s attny. refused to comment, and her husband told the Philadelphia Daily News that did not “know anything about that.” But by filing an information, as opposed to an indictment, with the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Eastern Dist. of PA, the U.S. Attny indicated that Roper has agreed to plead guilty to embezzlement.
The U.S. Attny. would not identify the unnamed official. But speculation centered on frmr. Local president Steve Brookens, whom the Intl. union removed in January 2001. At the time, a federal judge concluded that “political factionalism, subversion of democracy and financial malpractice were deeply entrenched” in Local 234. According to the information, the unnamed official’s thefts continued until January 2001. Brookens died in May.
According to the information, filed on June 10, Roper stole $50,000 from the union by depositing union funds into her personal credit union acct., then fabricated records purporting to show she had reimbursed the union. She also used $2,458 in TWU funds to pay the dues she and another employee of the union owed to the Office & Professional Employees Intl. Union, which represented employees of the TWU Local. Roper allegedly helped the unnamed official pocket $26,935 in ticket fees and contributions intended to support the union picnics. This official also stole $18,681 originally paid for union clothing.
To hide the embezzlement, Roper allegedly entered deposits of dues and membership fees, as well as funds from the union’s PAC, as reimbursements of the funds she had withdrawn. Intl. vice president Harry Lombardo said that when the Intl. took over Local 234, the union was $400,000 behind in dues payments to the Intl. In total, Roper either embezzled or helped to embezzle $98,132 from January 1998 until the Intl. union fired her in March 2001, acc. to the information. [U.S.A.O. E.D. PA, 6/10/03: Philadelphia Daily News, 6/11/03]