At least Helen Genal is remorseful. On January 25, Genal, former secretary-treasurer of the Fox Valley Area Community Action Program, a project of the United Auto Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to six months in prison for embezzling $29,968 from the Oshkosh-based labor organization. She pled guilty last November after being charged in July with one count each of embezzlement and making a false statement in union records. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
According to federal prosecutors, Genal began diverting union funds only a week after being hired in December 2011. Apparently, it was a hard habit to break. “I didn’t realize it had gotten this bad,” she said at her sentencing hearing. “I want to stay at home with my husband and my children, and pay restitution to the union because I’m so very, very sorry for what I’ve done.” She’ll get her wish fairly soon. Her six-month sentence could have been as long as five years had the case gone to trial and resulted in a guilty verdict. In return for her plea, prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor false statement charge.