Jason Richard stole union funds for only nine months, but he made the most of that time. Now he’s likely to do some prison time. On December 14, Richard, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 12-990, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to one count of embezzling more than $40,000 in funds from the Wallula (Walla Walla County), Wash.-based union, which represents workers at the Wallula plant of The Packaging Corporation of America. The plea came two months after the filing of the charge, but before an indictment could be returned by a grand jury, and follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
According to prosecutors, Jason Richard used his union position to embezzle $40,049 in union funds during January-October 2015, converting the money to his own personal use. A local audit subsequently discovered a financial shortfall and requested that the Department of Labor conduct an investigation. The DOL concluded that he stole the money. When interviewed by investigators, he admitted to his thefts. That led to a Justice Department investigation and a guilty plea in Richland federal court. Richard is free until sentencing on March 22. He faces up to five years in prison, three years of subsequent probation, and a restitution order to pay the residual $30,649 owed.