Local 285 of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union is getting used to guilty pleas among its members. On September 18, Jeanette McFarland, former president of the Fort Wayne, Ind. local, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one count of embezzlement from the union, which represents workers at Fort Wayne Foundry. McFarland is the third local official to admit to theft within the last several years. She faces sentencing in December.
Federal prosecutors charge that from June 2004 until May 2005 McFarland stole $7,604 from the union. Randy Gould, the Glass Workers’ international representative, said McFarland and former local Vice President Fredrick W. Jones sought to establish a union dental fund, but were rebuffed. The pair went ahead anyway, making withdrawals from what amounted to a phony fund. When Gould suspected money was missing, he contacted the appropriate government agencies. This wasn’t the first instance of theft at the local. In 2004, another official, Michael Updike, received five years probation and was ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution to the union and to an insurance company after admitting to embezzlement. Gould noted the union has taken steps to guard against such instances in the future. (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 9/19/08).