Union officials and their employees are not immune to gambling fever. And a good many in recent years have resorted to stealing to feed their habit. So it has been with Claraliene Gordon, former president of the Camden Education Association (CEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). On November 15, Gordon was indicted in New Jersey state court for diverting nearly $15,000 in union funds for personal use. She allegedly had spent thousands of those dollars on gambling trips in Atlantic City.
Prosecutors charged that during September 2000-August 2006, Gordon, now 66, used a union credit card for personal expenses under the pretext of conducting union business. On about 25 occasions, the purpose was “to help finance her gambling habit,” said State Attorney General Anne Milgram. In one instance, she made three withdrawals from the Showboat Casino to secure rooms for an unspecified education “convention.” The thefts came to light in 2006, after the NEA-affiliated New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) requested an audit. State prosecutors subsequently subpoenaed union financial records, which in turn led to Gordon’s resignation.
The local has seen its share of troubles lately. The NJEA audit found that the union had failed to reimburse the Camden School District for Gordon’s salary over several years. The CEA is now paying a $280,000 debt to the district. Gordon, who faces charges of theft by unlawful taking and misapplication of entrusted property, retired last year and lives in Fayetteville, N.C. She has repaid about $7,500 to the union. (South Jersey Courier-Post, 11/16/07).