Insulators Business Manager in Iowa Pleads Guilty to Ripping Off Union, Charity

When it came to stealing, Theodore Watson was a double-dipper. That may cost him extra time behind bars. On April 15, Watson, former business manager for International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 74, pleaded guilty in U.S. District for the Southern District of Iowa to one count of embezzlement, two counts of mail fraud and one count of making a false statement in the financial records of the Des Moines union. He had been indicted last December. The plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. He faces up to five and 20 years, respectively, for embezzlement and mail fraud at sentencing on August 23.

According to prosecutors, Watson, now 54, a Des Moines-area resident, during 2007-16 embezzled funds in an unspecified sum from his union. He used the Local 74 credit card without authorization to make purchases and receive cash advances, altering monthly statements afterward to conceal the thefts. In addition, he opened a bank account bearing the union name without official consent. Over the course of May 2013-January 2016, he deposited local funds into this account and then made withdrawals for his own use. Watson also concealed over $10,000 in illegal disbursements in the union annual financial report. And there was much more. In 2014, Watson applied for grants from the United Way of Central Iowa to cover the costs of nonexistent worker “training.” Once having received separate United Way checks for $19,000 and $18,000, he cashed them and kept the money. Truly, Theodore Watson was a man who didn’t know his own limitations.