Ex-Finance Director Admits Huge Embezzlement

The former finance director of the benefit plan for the American Fedtn. of TV & Radio Artists is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 15 for embezzling $1.36 million from the union fund.  A press release issued last week by AFTRA trustees states Robert Cataldo used “his access to the Funds’ financial records, and his unique knowledge of the Funds’ internal accounting controls for which he was responsible, to perpetrate and conceal his theft.”  The finance chief made “improper entries into the Funds’ financial records to make it appear as though the monies that he embezzled were actually used for legitimate Funds’ purposes.”


U.S. Dist. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald (S.D. NY, Clinton) will sentence Cataldo.  Federal law requires that Cataldo pay back the stolen monies; he will also be fined anywhere from $7,500 to $75,000. His sentence must fall within federal guidelines and will run from 37 to 46 months.


The funds’ insurance firms have agreed to reimburse the full amount of the embezzlement. AFTRA Legal Counsel Robert Projansky said the insurance companies will probably then attempt to seek repayment from Cataldo through the civil or criminal courts.  If Cataldo doesn’t have the money to repay, then once he is released from prison his wages will be garnished at a rate of 10 pct. of each paycheck until he has repaid the embezzled amount.


The crime came to light earlier this year when independent auditors — during their regular review of the funds’ accounts — found evidence of the unauthorized expenditures. Cataldo was fired upon the discovery of his embezzlement.  Cataldo was arrested “within about a week following the discovery of his crime” according to AFTRA trustees.  He pled guilty to embezzlement on Aug. 25.


Projansky admitted that there’s no 100 pct. assurance that a crime like this can’t recur. But he said that the monitoring procedures the funds already had in place led to the discovery of Cataldo’s crime. [BackStage (backstage.com), 11/30/04]