Detroit AFSCME President Sentenced for Embezzlement

Mervin Hawk was an unlucky gambler. That’s why his time behind bars is a sure thing. On March 7, Hawk, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1640, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to 30 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling more than $330,000 in funds from the Detroit union over a more than two-year period. Hawk had pleaded guilty last November after being charged in a one-count information last April with stealing over $600,000. He also was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $362,623. The actions follow a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

According to court records, Hawk, now 59, a resident of Southfield, Mich., used his position to make frequent withdrawals from local union accounts for purposes unrelated to union business. Most of the time, that meant covering gambling losses at the Motor City Casino in Detroit’s North Corktown area. From sometime in 2013 until April 2016, Hawk deposited over $325,000 in member dues into an unauthorized account at Huntington Bank at which he was the sole signatory. He also opened an unauthorized account at TCF Bank, where he deposited more than $165,000 in union funds. And he withdrew about $130,000 from the union’s primary bank account in about 30 separate transactions and transferred the funds to a personal account. Subsequent to the charge, the theft estimate was lowered by nearly half. Irene Ludlow, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, summarized the case: “Mervin Hawk abused his fiduciary position as the former President of AFSCME Local 1640 by embezzling over $330,000 in union dues for personal gain. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to safeguard the assets of union members.”