Those questioning the State of Michigan’s decision in March 2012 to take control of 15 Detroit city schools should consider the people working for the union representing its teachers – people, at least, like Sherri Patrick. On August 7, Ms. Patrick, formerly business manager of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with defrauding the union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, over a four-year period. The charge follows, belatedly, a complaint filed by the union with the Detroit Police Department.
Union Corruption Update initially covered this story in February 2010. The Detroit Federation of Teachers earlier that month had complained to local police that Ms. Patrick, a resident of Highland Park, Mich., had stolen about $75,000. She already had resigned her union post the previous April. Eventually, a federal investigation concluded they had enough evidence for a prosecution. Ms. Patrick during April 2005-April 2009 allegedly defrauded the AFT affiliate through forgery. The union normally required two signatures of DFT officials, those of the business manager and the president. Patrick purportedly forged the signature of President Keith Johnson to issue 90 checks payable to herself or to third parties. In one case, she wrote a check to herself from the union’s Comerica Bank account for $2,336.06 and then concealed the transaction in union records. Whatever the total haul, neither Detroit public schools nor the City of Detroit itself, the latter of which filed for bankruptcy this July, would appear better off.