Holding a winning lottery ticket wasn’t enough to persuade Thomas Jon Witham to pay back at least part of what he’d stolen over a half-dozen years. His ticket now will be some time behind bars. Witham, formerly secretary-treasurer for International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 106-D, was sentenced on December 8 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to 21 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for embezzling more than $50,000 from the Mason City union. He’ll also have to make full restitution. Indicted in July, he pleaded guilty in early September.
Witham, 40, a resident of Mason City, had admitted at his plea hearing that during September 2002-August 2008 he’d embezzled $52,037.19. What no doubt especially rankled U.S. District Judge Linda R. Reade is that he won $30,000 from the Iowa Lottery in April 2009 — after his thefts were discovered — and did not use any of that money to repay his union. He’ll get lesson in debt retirement soon: $5,000 of the thefts will have to be paid back within 60 days. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.