Upstate New York Plumbers Member, Brother Sentenced for Benefit Fraud

plumbers-union-logoJohn VonFricken tried to hustle his union health care plan.  Now he’s getting a brief education on incarceration.  On July 5, VonFricken, a member of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 7, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to three months of weekend time at the Renssalaer County Jail, plus three years of probation, for defrauding the union health care plan out of $54,600.  He also must pay full restitution and complete 50 hours of community service.  VonFricken had pleaded guilty in February after being indicted last November.  The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.

According to prosecutors, John VonFricken, now 51, a resident of Troy, N.Y., had submitted false receipts for orthodontic services and then submitted the invoices to the Plumbers Local 7 health care plan.  Apparently, this behavior runs in the family.  His brother, Michael VonFricken, now 45, also pleaded guilty in February to obtaining $32,732 from the same plan after submitting reimbursement claims for nonexistent orthodontic services.  Michael, like his older brother, was sentenced on July 18.  And he received an identical sentence:  three months in jail and three years of probation, plus an order to pay full restitution and perform 50 hours of community service.