Philadelphia Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Theft, False Statements

Peter Rhein’s ride is over.  Rhein, former treasurer of American Federation of Teachers Local 3845, pleaded guilty on February 3 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to six counts of embezzlement and eight counts of making false statements to the federal government.  Prosecutors charged that between October 2002 and February 2008, Rhein, 42, forged $43,600 in union checks to cover personal expenses.  He also forged the signature of the local president and falsified financial reports filed with the U.S. Labor Department.  Sentencing is scheduled for May 5.  The local represents instructors at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Technical Institute.  (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/4/09).


Another Philadelphia Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

American Federation of Teachers Local 4973 represents employees at a Philadelphia school for students with developmental disabilities.  But the union’s former treasurer, Grace Gaines, had a disability of her own:  an inability to keep her hands out of the cookie jar.  Now she’s getting an unwanted cure.  On January 30 in U.S. District Court, she received a sentence of six months of house arrest and five years of probation for theft of union funds.  She also will have to make restitution in the amount of $11,328 in addition to the $4,268 she previously paid.  In all, prosecutors said, she stole about $17,800.  Gaines pleaded guilty in October.


According to court documents, during January 2002-March 2006 Gaines cashed or deposited union dues checks to an account in her name.  Normally, checks required a co-signature by the union president.  But Gaines either overrode this provision or persuaded the president into signing the checks before she filled in the payee line.  “She stole because she could,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Foa.  The local represents employees at the Woodhaven Center, a Northeast Philadelphia school for autistic students. (, 1/31/09; Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/4/09).