One side calls it embezzlement; the other calls it a rookie mistake. Either way, Kimberly Solheim has been through a learning experience. The former bookkeeper for Division 402 of the Local Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in Pasco, Washington, is set to go on trial in federal court on January 23 for embezzling nearly $15,000 from the union. Prosecutors maintain that she diverted the funds into her own account during July 2001-July 2003. “The union has no source of income other than the dues, and it only has one account,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory Shogren. “She was acting as bookkeeper and wrote checks to herself and her husband.” But her husband, Kurt Solheim, is making a case that his wife never intended harm. “It was a clerical error that spun out of control,” he said. “She wasn’t aware of all the federal laws and the union laws. It was negligent, but it wasn’t criminal.” Mr. Solheim added that he’d already offered to reimburse the local. Neither side expects the case to go to a jury. (Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash., 12/29).
Former Secretary in Utah Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
On December 13, Blaine D. Barnett, formerly secretary-treasurer for BLE Division 374, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah to two counts of embezzlement totaling $1,100. Sentencing is scheduled for March 2. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 1/13).
Secretary-Treasurer in Delaware Sentenced for Theft
On December 13, Paul Himmelstein, ex-secretary-treasurer for Branch 1977 of the Letter Carriers, was sentenced to three years of probation and 360 hours of community service, for theft from his union in the amount of $34,683.20. He already had made restitution. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 1/13).
Ex-Bookkeeper in Tennessee Sentenced for Embezzlement
On December 14, Michelle Turney Thurlough, former secretary-bookkeeper for Plumbers Local 614 in Memphis, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, to three years probation and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $23,172.59. About a third of this total represents what she had embezzled from the union, and the other two-thirds represents the union’s auditing bills incurred by her actions. Thurlough had pleaded guilty in September. (OLMS, 1/13).
Ex-Treasurer for D.C. Local Sentenced for Embezzlement
On December 12, Tarria Burwell, former treasurer for Local 75 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, was sentenced by District of Columbia Superior Court to one year of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service to one count of embezzling nearly $16,000 in union funds. Burwell had pleaded guilty back in October. (OLMS, 1/13).
Washington, D.C. Treasurer Pleads Guilty to False Entries
On December 13, Richard Lyter, former executive assistant to the general secretary-treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, pleaded guilty to one count of making false entries in union records. Lyter charged meals with his wife on his union credit card and then logged the expenses in union records as being incurred by other people and for other purposes. Lyter followed this procedure for more than 300 meals totaling more than $14,000 before being caught. (OLMS, 1/13).
Former Council Secretary in Wisconsin Charged with Theft
On December 13, James Turner, ex-secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Council 33, Bureau of Prisons Locals, was charged in Burnett County Circuit Court with one count of theft of more than $2,500 in union funds. (OLMS, 1/13).
Ex-Local President in Virginia Sentenced for Embezzlement
On December 13, Peggy Darlene Shortt, former president of Steelworkers Local 14459, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, to three years probation and ordered to pay a fine of $2,000. She had pled guilty in September to embezzlement of $15,842.17 in union funds. (OLMS, 1/13).
Business Manager in Ohio Sentenced for Filing False Records
On December 14, Russell Liming, former business manager/secretary-treasurer for Local 183 of the Sheet Metal Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 30 days home confinement followed by three years probation, and was ordered to pay a $500 fine for making a false entry in union records. Liming previously had paid restitution to the union in the amount of $1,171. He pleaded guilty in August. (OLMS, 1/13).