Northern California Local Benefit Plan Administrator Sentenced

plumberreduced_6James W. James was too clever by a half.  As a result, he’s getting a half-year in prison, plus another half-year in home detention.  That was the sentence that James, benefit plan administrator for Local 159 of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, received in Oakland, Calif. federal court on April 6.  He also will have to pay nearly $180,000 in restitution to the union, plus a $10,000 fine.  The action comes in the wake of a three-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.

James, 52, a resident of San Leandro, an Oakland suburb, pleaded guilty last November to five charges of embezzlement and making false statements.  He’d stolen $150,000 from the local health and welfare plan, plus another $29,000 from a defined-contribution member retirement fund.  Prosecutors said that James told bank employees to wire union funds to accounts in his name at out-of-state banks, and then altered the account numbers to make it appear as though the money had been deposited into accounts of the Martinez, Calif.-based union.  In addition to serving his sentence, James will be subject to three years of supervised release and will be barred from future employment as a benefits administrator.  His sentence is set to begin June 6.  (Inside Bay Area, 4/11/07).