Janice R. Hughes turned out to be someone who couldn’t be trusted – ironic, considering she and her partner had been ripping off a union trust fund for a half-decade. On September 23, the Justice Department announced that Hughes, 68, a resident of Easton, Maryland, had pleaded guilty in federal court to six counts of bank fraud, five counts of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering. Back in March a grand jury had indicted Hughes and Gilbert A. Wolf, 72, for defrauding their former employer, the National Plastering Industry’s Joint Apprenticeship Trust Fund, and a pair of federal agencies, of at least $917,000 during 1995-2000.
Hughes was the office manager of the fund, a non-profit training organization run by the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association (OP & CMIA). Wolf had served as its executive director. The fund provided pre-apprenticeship career training for low-income youths at Job Corps centers run by the Department of Labor and the Department of the Interior. Hughes and Wolf, however, used the fund as a gateway to other kinds of opportunities. The pair, according to the indictment, would write, sign and issue checks to current, former and in some cases fictitious vendors with whom they purportedly had conducted business. The defendants then would deposit the checks in a hidden account. Additionally, they would deposit funds from OP & CMIA-affiliated unions, trust funds, contractors and employers as employee-benefit “contributions.”
Hughes and Wolf lived comfortably from the proceeds of their embezzlement. They steered funds toward payments on home and condominium mortgages, motor vehicles, country club memberships, and bank and department store credit cards. Hughes faces a statutory maximum of 30 years imprisonment, and at least 10 years under federal sentencing guidelines, plus fines and restitution. Wolf, who faces the same charges to which his partner pled guilty, is set to go on trial in January. At this point, he’d do better to cop a plea and be done with it. (States News Service, 9/23).