Assane Faye was quick to lend a helping hand. It was a perfect opportunity to help himself. On November 25, Faye, founder and former president of the United Security and Police Officers of America (USPOA), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to 37 months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling at least $350,000 in funds from the Washington, D.C.-based union. He also was ordered to make full restitution. Faye had been convicted by a jury this May on two counts of embezzlement and seven counts of unemployment insurance fraud after being indicted nearly two years ago. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Union Corruption Update described this case several months ago. According to prosecutors, Faye, 61, a Senegalese immigrant residing in Toms River, N.J., starting in February 2010 placed a woman, also from Senegal, on the union payroll at a salary of $800 a week to do organizing in New York. He also provided her with a monthly medical allowance and a travel budget, both paid out of union accounts. Faye did not seek approval for this arrangement from the union executive board – and with good reason. He now had complete access to her personal information and financial account. Over the next three-and-half years, Faye disbursed more than $244,000 in USPOA funds to this woman, identified only as “Individual A.” And he withdrew about $180,000 of that sum for his own use. He also claimed reimbursement for nonexistent travel expenses. Were that not enough, he obtained more than $7,000 in state unemployment benefits by falsely claiming he was out of work. As for the woman, she performed no work; she was a classic case of a ghost employee. Having had a prior romantic relationship with her, Faye could claim he was simply aiding a friend in need.
The union executive board, meanwhile, was growing suspicious of what appeared to be missing funds. One or more of its members contacted the U.S. Department of Labor to request a probe. The ensuing investigation confirmed suspicions and led to a nine-count indictment in March 2015. Assane Faye pleaded not guilty, choosing to take his case to trial. The jury did not oblige him, returning with a guilty verdict on all counts. The court then ordered him to relinquish his ties to the union that he founded – a truly ignominious ending.