Ex-Board Members of NYC Correction Officers Union Charged with Insurance Fraud

It might qualify as dark comedy. To prosecutors and union officials, it qualifies as theft. Allen Blake and Chandra LaSonde, each a former board member of the local Correction Officers' Benevolent Association (COBA), were charged on Wednesday in Manhattan federal court with mail fraud. Prosecutors allege Blake, with LaSonde's help, filed and eventually collected a false life insurance claim on behalf of Blake's wife, Pearl, whom he'd recently divorced and who died not long after. Blake and LaSonde, each a guard at New York City's Rikers Island jail complex, were forced out of the union in December by union President Norman Seabrook.  

The facts have unfolded over several months. Blake, 53, received a divorce in July 2009. That September, his ex-wife died. Meanwhile, back in June, Seabrook stripped Ms. LaSonde, 44, of her administrative duties and gave them to COBA Vice President Elizabeth Castro on grounds that several beneficiaries …