Scot McNamara liked the Caribbean. Unfortunately, his travel there didn’t have anything to do with union business. On July 20, McNamara, former financial secretary for International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 34, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on four counts of embezzling a combined $7,761 in funds from the St. Paul-based union. On the following day, July 21, Keith Christopherson, former local business manager, was charged in a one-count information with embezzling $2,081 from the union, which represents about 450 workers. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
McNamara, now 56, a resident of Cottage Grove, Minn., served as Local 34 financial secretary from December 2007 to December 2012, when he lost his re-election bid. According to federal prosecutors, he cashed in union-owned Visa reward points in exchange for personal expenses, including $1,900 in gasoline purchases. He also used his credit card for other personal expenses, the largest of which was more than $2,800 worth of airline tickets for a family vacation to Grand Cayman Island. McNamara falsely obtained a $3,087.84 reimbursement from his union for expenses incurred during a trip to New Orleans to attend a benefits plan administration seminar during October 30-November 2, 2011. Though the union already paid for the trip, McNamara, instead of returning the payment, allegedly used the money for personal expenses including another family trip to Grand Cayman. As for the other union defendant, Keith Christopherson, 53, a resident of Coon Rapids, Minn., the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not provide details about his alleged theft.