Assane Faye saw it as doing someone a favor. Federal prosecutors saw it as stealing. On May 10, Faye, founder, president and executive director of the United Security and Police Officers of America (USPOA), was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on two counts of embezzling more than $350,000 from the Washington, D.C.-based union and seven counts of unemployment insurance fraud. Immediately afterward, Faye was ordered by the court to relinquish his union post and remain under home confinement until sentencing. He had been indicted in March 2015 following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
According to court documents, Faye, now 61, born in Senegal and currently a resident of Toms River (Ocean County), N.J., placed a woman, identified as “Individual 1,” also a Senegalese national, on the USPOA payroll at $800 per week ostensibly for union organizing in New York. In addition, he provided her with $1,500 monthly allowances for medical coverage, plus disbursements for mileage, tolls, parking and vehicle maintenance. Faye and the woman had a previous romantic relationship. The woman lacked organizing experience, fluency in English or even a car, yet she touted her success in her organizing before the USPOA executive board. For three and a half years, she performed no services for USPOA, spending half that time back in Senegal. Faye, who had full access to her bank accounts, disbursed more than $244,000 in union funds to her. He also withdrew about $180,000 of that sum for his personal use, and submitted to the union board false vouchers for domestic and foreign travel. All told, Assane Faye scammed his union out of over $350,000. Additionally, during April 5, 2010-June 30, 2010 he falsely claimed unemployment status in order to collect more than $7,000 in benefits from the New Jersey Unemployment Insurance Division.
Eventually, an increasingly suspicious union board contacted the U.S. Department of Labor, which in turn conducted a full investigation. This led to several indictments last March. Faye pleaded not guilty, preferring to take his case to trial. The strategy backfired. After a three-week trial in Trenton federal court, the jury, after five hours of deliberation, came back with guilty verdicts. Sentencing is set for August 22.