Union Official Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $43 Million from Union

Written by Robert G. Brody on November 25, 2011

A former union benefit funds administrator recently pled guilty to embezzling $43 million from the union.  Melissa King of Irvington, New York, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement and one count of filing false tax returns.  She was a contract administrator for the Laborers’ International Union Local 147 benefit funds who received a salary of $540,000.  Local 147, also called the Sandhog’s Union, represents workers in New York City who work on tunnels and other underground projects.  The money was used for various personal luxuries, including: $1 million in antique jewelry, $99,000 to fly on private jets, $900,000 in mortgage payments, $25,000 a month for a Park Avenue penthouse, $300,000 at Neiman Marcus, $150,000 to stay at the Ritz Carlton Palm Beach, $300,000 on cars, and $7 million for American Express charges. 

 In addition, King spent $5.5 million on elite horses for her daughter.  Horses of that caliber cost upwards of $300,000.  Boarding one horse at the stable used by King costs $3,000 a month.  King has had at least eighteen competition level horses.  Her daughter competes with celebrity daughters such as those of Bruce Springsteen and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

King was arrested in 2009.  The government seized her assets, including a $2.1 million house, four luxury cars, ten horses, antique jewelry, 400 bottles of vintage wine and various bank accounts and trust funds.  Now that she pled guilty, she faces up to eight years in prison, as well as payment of restitution, penalties and back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. 

While this is an extreme case, we nonetheless encourage employers to discuss it and other union-related events with their employees, in order to inform employees about the benefits of remaining union-free.  This is a great conversation starter. Brody and Associates regularly advises its clients on union-related matters and provides union-free training.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.

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About the Authors

Robert G. Brody is the founding member of Brody and Associates, LLC. He has been quoted and published in national publications and appears as a guest T.V. commentator on contemporary Labor and Employment issues. Learn More