In the world of organized labor, debt accumulation all too often leads to embezzlement. Jeffrey Magelitz is a clear-cut case. On Tuesday, December 6, Magelitz, former treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 415, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to two years of probation, six months of home detention and 100 hours of community service for embezzling around $30,000 from the union, which represents employees at the Vienna Correctional Center (Johnson County), Illinois. He had pleaded guilty in August after being indicted last November. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Jeffrey Magelitz, now in his mid-40s, a resident of Chester, Ill., for years had provided counseling to inmates at the Vienna facility. Unfortunately, he could have used some debt counseling. He and his wife had accumulated about $225,000 in debt, mostly from credit card use and student loans. They decided to file for bankruptcy. Though required to pay only a minimal amount prior to finalizing the agreement, Magelitz raided the union cookie jar. During January 2012-June 2013, said prosecutors, he “embezzled funds by writing unauthorized checks to himself and to vendors for expenses not related to AFSCME Local 415 business” and “forged the signature of the local’s president and vice president on the checks to conceal the embezzlement.” The thefts totaled $30,811.96. Union officials, having grown suspicious over “unexplained bookkeeping irregularities,” contacted the Labor Department. The DOL in turn conducted its own probe, which led to a prosecution.