In film, TV and radio, a “residual” is a payment to the creator of a piece of work beyond the original screening or airing. Typically, the union distributes the money, once received from the studio. The production company gets 80 percent of the fees; the performers and supporting crew collect the other 20 percent. All this assumes the union administrator will forward the money. Michelle Dancy apparently doesn’t like that part. On May 21, Dancy, former office manager with the Residuals Estates and Trust Department of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with four counts of embezzlement from the Los Angeles-based union totaling at least $54,109 and five counts of false identification in connection with the alleged thefts. The charges follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General leading to a grand jury indictment in January.
Federal prosecutors allege that Dancy, a resident of Lawndale, Calif., embezzled $9,936 on July 28, 2010 from two members of SAG, which in 2012 merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). A couple weeks later, on August 11, she stole $7,460 from another member. A week later, on August 18, she ripped off single members in the respective sums of $15,724 and $20,989. SAG-AFTRA is satisfied with progress in the case. In a prepared statement, the union said: “SAG-AFTRA is pleased that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has moved forward with criminal charges against the former employee responsible for misappropriating funds from the union’s trusts and estates reserves. This theft was discovered during an internal audit conducted by the union in 2010 and was immediately investigated, and reported to our board and to the federal government.” The statement added that the union’s insurance carrier has fully reimbursed members.