For Rosa Della Porta, the new BMW and other accessories in the end weren’t worth it. Della Porta, formerly office manager-bookkeeper for International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 26, was sentenced on March 29 in Los Angeles federal court to 21 months in prison for embezzling well over $100,000 in union funds. She had been convicted by trial jury a year ago following the discovery of a pattern of thefts by local officials and a subsequent federal investigation. Della Porta, who was fired by her union in November 2006, also will have to pay $121,475 in restitution.
Prosecutors had charged that Della Porta, now 45, a resident of Highland Park, Calif., during January 2003-June 2006 ripped off her union through a clever check-cashing scam. She would deposit member dues and other payments into a union bank account, but then take out a portion for cash for herself, using two separate deposit slips for the same transaction. When the union eventually noticed cash shortfalls, it contacted the Department of Labor and requested an investigation. The DOL concluded that Della Porta had taken about $108,000, and referred the case to the Justice Department, which indicted her in August 2008. Even after the guilty verdict in April 2009, local officials continued their audit. They concluded the true loss exceeded $120,000. ILWU Local 26 represents roughly 1,000 workers at Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors.