Ex-Calif. President Charged with Embezzling More than He Admitted

Local prosecutors filed a felony embezzlement charge against Robert Gilstrap, who turned himself in to Clovis police on Jan. 22.  According to Fresno County Deputy Dist. Attny. John Savrnoch, Gilstrap embezzled the funds from the Clovis Public Works Employees Affiliation over the 10 yrs. that he was president and treasurer of the union, until May 2003.  The local union has since affiliated with the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers.  When he resigned last year, Gilstrap admitted to stealing $58,000.  Auditors for the union say that Gilstrap actually stole $96,519.  Clovis police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee told the Fresno Bee, “There was no firm figure listed when we turned it in to the district attorney’s office.  We are estimating it’s about $80,000.”  Gilstrap is currently free on $5,000 bail. [Fresno Bee, 1/23/04]

 

Dallas Jury Issues Split Verdict on Frmr. Union Chief

A federal jury found frmr. Dallas police officer Rick Wilson guilty of 2 counts of mail fraud on Jan. 26, but acquitted him of a 3rd count of mail fraud and 1 count of lying to FBI agents.  Head of the Dallas Police Patrolman’s Assn. for 4 yrs. until Feb. 2002, Wilson was charged with buying personal items on the union’s Amer. Express card, then paying the bills with checks from the union’s accounts for $14,000.  He was also charged with lying about the number of complaints received concerning a telemarketing firm, Bus. Relations Services Inc., which raised money for several police unions, incl. the patrolman’s assn.  Wilson allegedly claimed that the union only got 6 complaints, when acc. to testimony, the union received scores of complaints about the firm which was allowed to keep 80 pct. of the funds it raised.

 

The two guilty verdicts were for checks that Wilson sent from a union acct. designated for funds raised from local residents.  The 3rd mail fraud count, for which Wilson was acquitted, was for a check sent from an acct. containing members’ dues.  Asst. U.S. Attny. Mike Snipes speculated that the jurors may have made a distinction between the money that came from residents and from members.  Nonetheless, Snipes said, “We’re very satisfied with the jury’s verdict.”  Wilson’s defense lawyer, Barry Sorrels, said he would consider appealing the verdicts based on the jury’s decision to their verdicts on essentially the same charges. [Dallas Morning News, 1/23/04, 1/27/04]