After more than half a dozen years, Caleb Gray-Burriss has run out of options. On December 4, Gray-Burriss, founder-president of the National Association of Special Police and Security Officers (NASPSO), was found guilty by a jury in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on 18 counts, including six counts each for mail fraud and embezzlement, in connection with more than $250,000 in thefts from union general and benefit funds. The Washington, D.C.-based union represents around 800 private security guards assigned to federal government buildings. The verdict comes in the wake of an indictment and a pair of superseding indictments, which in turn had followed a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.
Union Corruption Update has covered this story twice before. Back in April 2007, federal agents raided the Washington, D.C. home of Gray-Burriss, now 62, seizing various pieces of evidence related to his theft of NASPSO funds during June 2004-August 2006. The Labor Department had conducted a full probe in 2006. But Gray-Burriss, out on bail, and his lawyer succeeded in delaying legal action. Finally, in June 2010 he was charged with four counts of mail fraud against union pension and health plans. In April 2011, he was charged in a superseding indictment with thefts in excess of $200,000. Then, this past August, he was charged in another superseding indictment for two counts of embezzlement totaling $68,374.99 and one count of conspiracy to embezzle. Gray-Burriss considered a plea bargain, but eventually chose to go to trial.
It was a bad move. At the trial, the prosecution provided strong evidence that Gray-Burriss had fleeced employer and employee contributions to NASPSO benefit plans even after the raid on his home and then – talk about audacity – continued to steal even after being indicted. During June 2004-February 2011 he wrote checks to himself or other third parties from the union pension plan checking account; spent more than $100,000 of that money on personal uses; and falsely claimed the funds went for union operations. Moreover, he stole more than $150,000 in union general funds by: making unauthorized cash withdrawals to himself; awarding salary increases and bonuses to himself and another person: and writing fraudulent checks to himself. He also used NASPSO funds to pay personal fines in a separate civil suit. Finally, said prosecutors, Gray-Burriss destroyed or concealed union records during a grand jury investigation and withheld or falsified financial reports to the Labor Department. The jury rendered a guilty verdict on 18 counts. Sentencing is scheduled for February 28. Union members no doubt are relieved, but also must be wondering whether they will get their money back.