Laura Dixon’s attorney had insisted that his client’s thefts were motivated by a concern for the welfare of union members. In the end, that would have been too much for a jury to accept. On March 13, Dixon, formerly office secretary for the Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to embezzling between $70,000 and a little above $170,000 from the Toledo, Ohio-based labor organization. She had been charged on February 23. The union, recently merged into an entity known as the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, represents about 17,000 workers in 33 locals. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
According to prosecutors, Dixon, 50, from January 2005 to about March 2010 stole between $70,000 and $170,216. The information count stated the defendant converted “to her own use the moneys, funds, securities, property, and other assets of said labor organization by failing to deposit dues payments made by its members.” Dixon’s lawyer, Rick Kerger, counters she “did not personally benefit from her actions.” The misunderstanding, he notes, was the result of her concern for rank and file. “Errors were made by her in an effort to ensure that members’ benefits would be continued,” Kerger remarked. “She falsely recorded entries on the books indicating that payments had been made when they had not. This has caused a financial loss to the union, which has not as yet been determined.” Yet it took five years for these “errors” to be noticed. That was too long, Dixon and her attorney in the end concluded, to build a convincing case.