For a union office employee, Rosa Della Porta seemed to live beyond her means. The new BMW she drove to work raised her boss’ suspicions, especially as funds seemed to be disappearing. Those suspicions eventually were borne out. Della Porta, former bookkeeper for Local 26 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Los Angeles, was arrested this month for embezzlement of $108,000 in local funds and indicted on August 8 in federal court. “After receiving cash from various sources, Della Porta allegedly deposited less cash than the union received and pocketed the difference,” noted the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The local began an internal audit after it noticed discrepancies in its books. Local 26 President Luisa Gratz, suspecting Della Porta had been dipping into the till, then notified the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, which in turn conducted a full investigation. The DOL determined that Della Porta, 44, a resident of Highland Park, Calif., had diverted funds to her personal use during January 2003-June 2006. “They (the Department of Labor) said it’s a very skilled person who can do that,” said Gratz. “She fooled us.” As for that BMW, Della Porta had claimed that she bought it from Las Vegas casino winnings. “I didn’t believe her, but we didn’t have proof,” said Gratz. Now they do. And a conviction could land her in prison for up to five years. (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 8/13/08).