Convicted New York-New Jersey Port Authority Union Boss May Get Second Chance

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Holland TunnelThe case against Daniel Hughes seemed airtight the last time around. That's why he pled guilty a year ago to fraud. But the former boss of the union representing maintenance workers for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey might have to go through the motions again. On the upside, he might walk. On May 6, Hughes, a Port Authority employee as well as ex-president of Port Authority Field Supervisors Association Local 111-S, appeared in Brooklyn federal court to receive word that his union might not be covered under the law used to charge him with stealing nearly $300,000 in local funds. If he pleads not guilty this time, prosecutors would charge Hughes with wire fraud. And it's hard to see an outcome any different. 

Union Corruption Update covered this story in detail a year ago. Hughes, whose corpulence made as much news as his ventures into opulence, pleaded guilty last June 16 to embezzling about $294,000 from Local 111-S, whose roughly 250 rank-and-file members perform roadwork at Port Authority-managed bridges, tunnels and airports. For several years he diverted union funds to his expensive restaurant meals, gambling junkets, sexual trysts, and pay sex websites. The embezzlement eventually was exposed in December 2009, triggering his resignation from his Port Authority and unions posts. Hughes, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and depression, might well elicit sympathy were it not for his thefts.

Daniel Hughes and his lawyer, Christopher Renfroe, are arguing that a new round could create the possibility of double jeopardy. "Hopefully, we can resolve all these issues," Renfroe said. Even with resolution, however, his client is far from out of the woods. The feds have indicated they would present evidence to a new grand jury to obtain an indictment. Given their possession of incriminating invoices, it would be hard to see an outcome any different. But at this point, Hughes might be willing to try anything to avoid a prison sentence of anywhere from 46 to 57 months.

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