For three years, Annette Jones used her union as a personal ATM card. Her card now no longer works. On September 10, Jones, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 331, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to two years in prison for embezzling more than $80,000 from her union, which represents hundreds of employees at the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Cecil County, Md. She also was ordered to pay full restitution. Jones had pleaded guilty this May after being indicted in June 2018. The actions follow a joint investigation by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General.
Union Corruption Update covered this story in May. Jones, now in her mid-40s, a resident of Port Deposit, Md., conducted a pair of fraud schemes against AFGE Local 331 during July 2012-July 2015. In by far the larger one, Jones stole $80,944.80 by forging colleagues’ signatures on 335 separate union checks and then cashed or deposited them. In the other scheme, she repeatedly used her union credit card to pay for personal expenses totaling $1,235.93. In each case, she concealed the thefts by falsifying union financial records.
The hustle began to unravel in July 2015 when the local vice president overheard a phone call during which Jones had attempted to buy a smart phone for a family member with a union credit card. The vice president reported the conversation to the president. This in turn led to a search of Jones’ office, a meeting with a manager of the bank where the union had its account, and a review of financial transactions. The conclusion: Jones had engaged in multiple acts of forgery and embezzlement totaling $82,180.73. Eventually, the Justice Department took over and filed charges last year. Her sentence reflects a prior plea agreement.