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Former union treasurer pleads guilty to embezzling $30K

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The former treasurer-secretary of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 26 pleaded guilty Wednesday in Richmond federal court to embezzling $30,519 by writing unauthorized checks — some with the forged signature of the union president — and making unapproved debits and cash withdrawals from the labor organization’s checking account to pay his personal expenses.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson convicted Anthony Jordan, 55, of Emporia, after accepting his plea to embezzlement of union funds in a scheme that spanned nearly 5½ years.

Jordan could receive up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced Sept. 8.

According to the government’s statement of facts, Jordan was a salaried employee of the union and received monthly compensation for his position as treasurer-secretary, which he assumed in April 2013. His duties included overseeing the union’s funds, maintaining the organization’s checkbook and financial records and providing reports at membership meetings.

Jordan also co-signed checks, balanced the union’s bank account and prepared the organization’s taxes.

During his tenure as secretary-treasurer, the union had only one bank account, and Jordan had sole control of the account’s debit card, as well as sole online access to the union’s account via a Wells Fargo online portal.

The union’s check writing policy required two signatures — Jordan’s and that of the union president.

“The defendant had complete control of the union’s financial records, as the union’s Wells Fargo account was associated with the defendant’s home address and the bank statements were mailed to the defendant’s home,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carla Jordan-Detamore wrote in the government’s summary of evidence.

From December 2013 through April 2019, Jordan wrote unauthorized checks from the union’s Wells Fargo checking account to himself. He also made unauthorized direct debits, ATM withdrawals and cash back transactions from the checking account to pay his personal expenses, Jordan-Detamore wrote.

In embezzling the funds, Jordan forged the signature of the union’s president without his knowledge on checks withdrawn from the union’s bank account. He also used blank checks that had been pre-signed by the president to pay for expenses the president had not authorized. Jordan would use these checks to pay himself “duplicate salary and expense stipend payments in some months that were not authorized” by the union, according to the government.

During the course of the scheme, Jordan executed 13 payments to himself via unauthorized checks, as well as two withdrawals for salary and expense stipends “that the defendant knew full well he was not authorized to receive.”

In addition to issuing and cashing unauthorized checks, Jordan further embezzled funds by making 166 unauthorized payments via direct debits from the union’s checking account. Those payments totaled $18,698. None of those payments were made on behalf of, or for the benefit of, the union, according to the government.

“Instead, the defendant made these direct debits to pay for personal expenses such as veterinary services, utility company bills, cell phone service, internet and cable, groceries, personal tax returns, convenience store transactions, and others,” Jordan-Detamore wrote.

Jordan also made more than 50 unauthorized cash withdrawals from the union’s bank account to pay for personal expenses.

To conceal the theft, he did not provide the union with financial reports starting about a year after he assumed the position of secretary-treasurer. By the end of March 2019, the union’s account balance was $8.98 in the red.

In pleading guilty, Jordan agreed to make restitution in the amount of $12,419.76 to the union, and an additional $15,000 to Travelers Insurance. Court records show he has already made a restitution payment of $3,100.

The local chapter of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen is based in Mechanicsville and serves members in the greater Richmond area. The BLET has a U.S. membership of more than 57,000.

Jordan is the second local union official to be convicted of stealing funds in two months.

On March 8, Nintay Edwards, 41, the former financial secretary and treasurer of the United Steelworkers Union, Local 694 in Richmond, was sentenced in federal court to home detention on his conviction of embezzling $66,684 from its members over 18 months.

He used the money to pay his personal expenses.

U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck showed Edwards leniency and departed from federal sentencing guidelines, which called for Edwards to serve a prison term of between 15 and 21 months.

The judge cited Edwards’ “challenging circumstances” in raising an autistic child, and noted he had acquired a lucrative railroad job that would allow him to pay restitution and provide specialized care for his nonverbal 6-year-old autistic son.

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