BLET-Teamster Secretary in Tennessee Charged with $200K+ Theft; Strikes Plea Deal

blet-logoReda Overton had low self-esteem. Unfortunately, she saw raiding her union’s coffers as the way to boost it. On or a little before February 14, Overton, formerly executive secretary for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), General Committee of Adjustment 4-175, a Teamsters affiliate, agreed to plead guilty at an unspecified date in Knoxville federal court to embezzling more than $200,000 from a Tennessee office of the Cynthiana, Ky.-based labor organization over a more than three-year period. She had been charged on January 22 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. As part of the deal, Overton agreed to skip a grand jury review.

Federal prosecutors had alleged that Overton during December 2008-March 2012 had engaged in repeated thefts from an East Tennessee office of the union, whose members include employees of Norfolk Southern Railway. She pulled her scam by overpaying herself, transferring thousands of dollars at a time to her personal bank account. She left her union job in June 2012. While court records do not indicate when the thefts were discovered, someone within the union must have recognized a cash shortfall and reported the problem to the Department of Labor. Over a year after her departure, the DOL interviewed Overton. At that point, she confessed to embezzling what amounted to $206,056. The Labor Department then referred the case to the Justice Department, which eventually filed a single information count.

This was a troubled woman. The plea agreement document reads as follows: “During that interview, (Overton) stated that she paid herself additional pay on top of her legitimate salary and for weeks that she was not entitled to receive any pay. She stated further that she knew her actions were wrong and illegal but did it anyway and did so to make herself feel better because she was going through a time in her life when she did not feel good about herself.” That’s got to take the cake: She stole to lift her spirits. At any rate, a court date for the formal entry of a guilty plea has yet to be established.