Charles Cart has worn many hats in his time. He’s a leading political figure in Sussex County, New Jersey, having served as its Democratic Party chairman. He manages a top heavyweight boxing contender. He runs a health care management business. And nearly 15 years ago he founded a labor union, Local 16 of the United Service Workers of America. The connections he forged in the latter two roles served him well for a long while – but now they’re about to land him in the slammer for a brief stretch. Cart, a resident of Hampton Township, N.J., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh to six months in federal prison and another six months of home confinement for his role in ripping off and eventually bankrupting the local. Cart pleaded guilty last year to two counts of conspiracy for using his company, the Newton, N.J.-based Health Choice, Inc., a third-party administrator, to embezzle union funds.
Prosecutors argued that Cart, who founded the Sparta, N.J.-based Local 16 in 1993, conspired to embezzle union funds during May 2000-November 2001. He enlisted his stepfather, Charles Wiener (also a former union president), and an associate, Marvin Raphael, both of Boca Raton, Fla., in the scheme, paying them for nonexistent consulting work. Cart admitted he’d received half the proceeds from Raphael’s phony contract. In all, Cart used Health Choice as a front to skim more than $280,000 from the union. Another ex-Local 16 president, Susan Donato, a resident of St. Cloud, Fla., was the first to cooperate with the prosecution. In January 2005 she admitted to embezzling from the union, in part by using its credit cards to pay for personal expenses. She got five years probation and an order to pay nearly $50,000 in restitution. Cart also cooperated, leading to a guilty plea from Raphael, who will be sentenced later this month, and Wiener, who received a sentence of eight months of house arrest plus three years of probation. In addition to his sentence, Cart will have to pay $144,077 in restitution to a union bankruptcy trustee, plus a $40,000 fine.
Cart, who recently underwent heart surgery, apologized to the court, his family and friends. He was pleased over his relatively mild punishment, though seemed somewhat in denial. “I’ve led a solid life my whole life and I’m sorry to be here,” he said. He’s scheduled to report for sentencing on June 6. One of Cart’s lawyers, Jeffrey Smith, said his client has been trying to get his life back on track, working as a business consultant. If that doesn’t work out, he may still get some mileage out of his boxer, Ray Austin. Austin was the World Boxing Association’s number-two heavyweight for February 2007, a ranking, regrettably, that has nowhere to go but down in the wake of his second-round knockout earlier this month at the hands of Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko. That’s entertainment. (Newark Star-Ledger, 3/8/07).