For five years, Rae Dawn Grillo embezzled union funds. She’s now going to spend the next five years under close supervision. On August 27, Grillo, formerly treasurer of the Charleroi Area Education Association, pleaded guilty in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) to thefts from the union totaling $65,963. She then was sentenced to nine months of electronic home monitoring, five years of probation and 200 hours of community service. She also was ordered to repay residual restitution in the amount of $8,175. Grillo had been charged in February following a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
According to court records, Grillo, 55, a resident of Fallowfield Township, Pa. and a former speech therapist with the Charleroi School District, during 2007-12 made unauthorized withdrawals from a union checking account. The Pennsylvania State Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, initiated an internal probe in June 2012 following its discovery that the Charleroi chapter had failed to forward more than $7,000 in member dues. The state association approached the new local treasurer – Grillo by then had become local president – and found a lot of checks had been withdrawn and made out to “cash.” The PSEA then reported the problem to police. Grillo admitted to the thefts. The Labor Department had conducted its own probe, concluding that over $65,000 was missing from the union strike fund.