A husband-wife team of union officials lived the high life on members' money, federal prosecutors charged in indictments announced today.
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Ronald Witt, 64, and his wife Anita, 56, were respectively the business manager and treasurer of local 450 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, whose members operate heavy equipment, mechanics and surveyors.
Prosecutors say the Witts embezzled funds from the union and its apprentice school -- best to teach the young'uns the rough ways of the world early -- and they spent it in style: "luxury trips for themselves and their friends, recreational travel trailers, purchases at hardware stores, personal meal expenses, rebuilding their Galveston home and depositing unearned union checks into their bank accounts," the U.S. Attorney's Office says.
"These investigations are an example of our efforts to safeguard union democracy and ensure union financial integrity so that workers can have a more effective voice in the governance of their unions and a collective voice in the workplace," said Daniel Cherry of the Office of Labor Management Standards. "We hope this will encourage union members and others with knowledge of illegal practices to come forward and expose corrupt leadership to help us meet our goals."
The investigation came at the request of the main office of the IUOE, which took over management of the local and sued the Witts over their alleged embezzlement.