William “Willie” Brown was in charge of overseeing his union’s finances. Unfortunately, he thought nobody would oversee him. Brown, 53, was sentenced to five years probation on April 28 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for embezzling from Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 237 in Texarkana, where he had served as apprenticeship and training coordinator. He also will have to pay $4,942 in restitution, a small fraction of the amount he allegedly stole.
During November 1997-September 2002, prosecutors charged, Brown used his positions to divert at least $80,000 in assets from the apprenticeship-training fund and the general fund to his own personal use. A resident of Atlanta, Texas (south of Texarkana), he eventually was indicted on eight specific instances by a grand jury in April 2007 and pleaded guilty last August. The prosecution and guilty plea follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, Office of Labor-Management Standards, and Office of Inspector General.