Amy Atherton’s original story sounded fishy. Eventually, prosecutors discovered the real one. On September 25, Atherton, a former bookkeeper with Laborers International Union of North America Local 366, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months in prison and three years of probation, including six months of home detention, for making false statements in relation to the disappearance of nearly $175,000 in funds from the Sheffield, Ala. union. She also will have to pay full restitution. Atherton had pleaded guilty in June following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Atherton served as office manager-bookkeeper for LIUNA Local 366 from 2006 until April 2011. According to court documents, she fleeced her union out of $174,283 and then, during a 2013 interview with FBI and DOL investigators, blamed the thefts on the union business manager. The story might have worked because the business manager recently had died. Atherton also told federal agents that she had told a Certified Public Accountant that she had cooked the books so as to cover for the business manager and that the CPA and an office employee had advised her to take this course of action. Both the CPA and the office employee, however, denied ever having informed by Atherton of any embezzlement. Her account was merely an attempt to appear as a “concerned” union office employee. In one sense, Atherton is lucky; she was prosecuted only for her cover-up and not for the thefts themselves.