The former office manager for a Des Moines-area bricklayers union pleaded guilty in federal court on Dec. 22 of embezzling more than $209,000 over several years. Amanda Kemmer, 38, admitted that she altered pay stubs to give herself nearly $18,000 in unauthorized salary and $2,576 in unearned pension contributions between January 1997 and April 2004. Kemmer said she also pocketed $14,217 in cash from union coffers, and she used a rubber stamp to write herself $174,714 in improper checks.
Gary Crees, head of Bricklayers Local 3, said Kemmer initially downplayed minor discrepancies in union accounts but confessed to everything in April when Crees mentioned that an auditor was visiting the union next door. Authorities did not disclose a motive for the embezzlement. In court, Kemmer said she suffers from “severe anxiety and depression” and takes four drugs to treat those conditions.
Kemmer’s guilty plea to one count of embezzling means she faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Lawyers said she probably would receive 24 to 30 months in prison when she is sentenced March 14.
Crees said the incident has shocked union officials, who believed tougher financial safeguards were in place. “Every year we were audited, and it never showed up,” Crees said. “I don’t know how she did it.” [Des Moines Register, 12/23/04]