Frankie Sanders thought he could fool his union. Instead, he made a fool of himself. And now he’s facing civil and possibly criminal charges. On February 9, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) filed suit in federal court against the former Houston-based union official charging that he had defrauded the union of more than $13,000. The APWU alleges Sanders, a business agent and regional coordinator, employed tactics of racketeering, deceit and breach of contract to disguise more than 20 acts of embezzlement for supposed union-related trips. Ed Gallagher, deputy criminal chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston, has asked the Labor Department and the Postal Service to conduct a criminal probe.
Sanders served in the Washington, D.C.-based union during October 1992-October 2006. For nearly a dozen years he was a national business agent and then in February 2004 became APWU southern region coordinator. In its complaint, the union charges that beginning in or about June 2003 Sanders committed fraud totaling $13,145.80. The defendant allegedly submitted 22 fraudulent or spurious hotel invoices related to trips, mainly or exclusively to New Orleans. Acting as trustee for that city’s local, Sanders made $50,000 in withdrawals from its bank account, converting a portion of the money to personal use. The parent union suspected something was amiss when it found that nine of his “stays” at the New Orleans Airport Hilton Garden Inn occurred during August 28, 2005-April 16, 2006. During this period, in fact, the hotel was closed to the general public due to Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flood damage. “The lawsuit is not politically motivated; the lawsuit speaks for itself; and we trust the court system to do the right thing,” said APWU Secretary-Treasurer Terry Stapleton. Given the evidence, that might not be too hard. (U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, 2/9/09; PostalReporter.com, 2/21/09).