Cora Carper ran the finances for a political action committee. She might have run it into the ground had her pattern of theft not been discovered. On July 2, Carper, former financial manager for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers PAC, was sentenced in Baltimore federal court to 37 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for embezzling more than $500,000 from the committee. Carper, who also had been a clerical employee at union headquarters in Lanham, Md., had pleaded guilty in November 2012 after being indicted that April following a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $495,286. Her family previously paid a small portion of the take.
Federal prosecutors had alleged that Carper, 32, a resident of Churchton, Md., during June 2009-February 2011 wrote more than 300 unauthorized PAC checks totaling $502,586 for her own use. She would make the checks payable to “cash,” “cash reimbursement” or “petty cash,” endorsing the back of virtually all of them. She then forged electronic signatures of the union general president and secretary-treasurer before cashing them, depositing at least $180,000 of the money into personal bank accounts. To conceal the thefts, Carper falsely indicated in the computerized ledgers that the checks were political donations or reimbursements for work-related expenses. Early in 2011, Insulators General President James Grogan confronted Carper, suspicious that she had been siphoning funds. Carper admitted at the time that she had taken $7,300, but denied involvement in other embezzlement. Her family paid the union that sum. A subsequent internal investigation turned up a lot more thefts. The AFL-CIO-affiliated union, which represents more than 20,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, no doubt is feeling relief.