Ex-Employee of Florida Union Sentenced for Role in Scam

James Lynch was a mere boat captain employed by Michael McKay, the now-imprisoned ex-president of the American Maritime Officers union. But McKay, along with his younger brother, former secretary-treasurer Robert McKay, has begun doing time in federal prison on racketeering charges. And the U.S. Justice Department believed Lynch had participated in their theft. On Friday, April 27, prosecutors announced that Lynch, 56, had received a 30-month-prison sentence for his role in defrauding the union. He also will undergo two years of supervised release and make restitution in the amount of at least $103,119 to the union’s benefit plans plus forfeiture in that same amount to the government. 

Lynch was a yacht captain and boat dispatcher. But the feds said he was anything but innocent. He allegedly received unauthorized payments and boat repairs from an employee benefit plan vendor. Additionally, said authorities, Lynch diverted money from a benefit plan to pay Read More ➡

AMO’s McKay Brothers Sentenced in Florida Federal Court

The curtain closed for the old regime of the American Maritime Officers (AMO) in a Ft. Lauderdale federal courtroom on March 29. Michael McKay, president of the 4,000-member Dania Beach, Fla.-based union, convicted on racketeering conspiracy and fraud charges in early January after a four-week trial, received a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence. His younger brother, Robert, the union’s secretary-treasurer, also convicted by a jury, got 15 months for lesser offenses. “This case ultimately boils down to three words – ‘violation of trust,’” said U.S. District Judge James Cohn. “Ultimately, it was union members and plan participants who were the victims.”

Prosecutors had accused the McKays of running the union as a slush fund, diverting member benefits toward their personal use. Additionally, they said, Robert McKay rigged union elections and made illegal campaign contributions to Broward County office-seekers from benefit funds. The prosecution’s star witness, David Merriken, who had been the union’s Read More ➡

Jury Convicts Maritime Union Bosses in Criminal Racketeering Suit

It was the end of the line for Michael and Robert McKay. They’d been the targets of an extensive racketeering probe into their union, the American Maritime Officers. Late Friday afternoon January 5, a federal jury in Broward County, Fla., after just one day of deliberation, rendered its verdict: guilty. The McKay brothers, respectively, AMO president and secretary-treasurer, had been accused by the Justice Department of rigging elections, stealing benefit plan funds and obstructing justice. The jury convicted the pair on a variety of charges, including racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and record forgery.

Federal prosecutors called forth almost 30 witnesses to the stand during the four-week trial, reviewing thousands of documents. The McKay brothers, whose father, Raymond, had served as president of the 4,000-member Dania Beach, Fla.-based union for 36 years, insisted they’d been framed. That’s what Michael McKay’s lawyer, Neal Sonnett, believed as well. “I’m very, very disappointed,” he Read More ➡

RICO Trial for Bosses of AMO Union Gets Underway

Michael and Robert McKay have been living on borrowed time. Respectively, president and treasurer-secretary of the American Maritime Officers, the McKay brothers, aged 59 and 56, rigged elections, stole funds, obstructed justice, and orchestrated illegal campaign contributions. At least that’s what the Justice Department has been alleging in a criminal racketeering suit against the pair. Belatedly, the trial began on Tuesday, November 21.


The McKays have an unusually difficult hurdle to clear in order to convince the jury of their innocence: testimony by a longtime friend, now ex-friend, David Merriken, who’d run the union’s employee benefit plans during the latter part of the Nineties. Merriken for nearly a year had worn a hidden wire to work at AMO headquarters in the Broward County, Fla. community of Dania Beach. Federal investigators believed the McKays had been stealing from the 4,000-member national union, buying off local politicians in the process. Merriken Read More ➡

National Maritime President, Three Others Hit with RICO Suit

America’s maritime officers are seafarers, working the decks, engine rooms and other sections of U.S.-flagged commercial and military vessels. They sail the world’s oceans, the Great Lakes and inland waters. But federal prosecutors right now are concerned about certain things the people who run their 4,000-member union may have done on land. On September 14, officials from the Justice and Labor Departments announced the unsealing of a 13-count indictment against Michael McKay, 58, national president of the American Maritime Officers (AMO), his brother, Robert McKay, 55, AMO’s national secretary-treasurer, and two other men. Charges include embezzlement, mail fraud, graft, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and falsification of records.


The government charged that the McKays, along with union employees Phillip Ciccarelli, 64, and James Lynch, 55, embezzled funds from union benefit plans to pay for personal expenses such as fine china, cigars, hockey games and personal boat repairs, not Read More ➡