Nickolas Weihert didn’t steal for very long. But even before his thefts were discovered, his union had decided his services no longer were needed. On October 5, Weihert, formerly financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 4845, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin with three counts of embezzlement totaling $450 from the union, which represents about 100 workers at the Waukesha Foundry. But it was part of an overall pattern of fraudulent transactions that netted him $17,256. Later in the week he agreed to plead guilty, an agreement requiring that he serve up to five years in prison and pay restitution. His drug habit had more than a little to do with his travails.
Weihert, 28, a resident of the city of Watertown, Wisc. (west of Milwaukee), became Local 4845 financial secretary in September 2007. Beginning the following month and lasting through May 2008, alleged federal prosecutors, he made unauthorized ATM cash withdrawals and wrote checks to himself from union funds. In that latter month the union fired him for poor attendance. Things would get worse. His successor soon noticed irregularities in the financial books. The local president ordered an audit and requested a Department of Labor investigation. The funding shortfall, concluded the DOL, was attributable to Weihert, who admitted he used the stolen $17,256 in union funds to pay for his drug addiction. Given that Weihert already faces a cocaine charge Waukesha Circuit Court, his future in organized labor, if he has one, depends on getting into rehab quickly.