Mike Rice’s fall from grace was swift. On September 19, Rice, ex-president of UFCW Local 538 in Madison, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling $30,211 from the union. He filed false expense vouchers over several years, even as he led members in a bitter strike against the Tyson Foods plant in Jefferson. The 2,200-member local also represents workers at Oscar Meyer (Madison) and Jones Dairy Farm (Fort Atkinson). His sentence could include up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. “Over a number of years as president of Local 538, I was paid money to attend meetings that did not happen,” Rice admitted to U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison. (Wisconsin State Journal, 9/20).
Wisconsin Local President Indicted for Embezzlement
There must be something in the air lately in the Badger State. In a case unrelated to Mike Rice’s, Rebecca Bandt, formerly president of UFCW Local 717, was indicted in federal court on September 15 on several counts each of embezzlement, falsifying union records, and filing false reports. According to court records, Bandt, 44, a resident of Marshfield, located southwest of Wausau, stole $14,065 from the local during the period September 2000-October 2004, writing 43 checks to herself from the local’s bank account. To conceal the thefts, Bandt would enter false payees in account records, or if she listed herself as the payee, she would enter a different amount in account records. The union discovered the discrepancies and reported them to the U.S. Department of Labor. At the time of the thefts, Local 717 represented more than 100 employees of Weinbrenner Shoe Co. in Merrill, a little north of Wausau. (Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, 9/16; Wisconsin State Journal, 9/20).