John Vinson isn’t the only former local official within New York State’s mammoth Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), an AFSCME affiliate, to be in recent trouble for embezzlement. Rank-and-file members no doubt hope he’ll be the last. Vinson, president of CSEA Local 659, was arrested by state police on Wednesday, February 17, and charged with embezzling more than $70,000 from the Albany union. He was arraigned in Albany City Court and released on $10,000 bond.
Investigators allege that Vinson, 52, a resident of Cohoes, N.Y., who had headed Local 659 for most of the previous decade, stole roughly $71,000 from the union during June 2005-August 2008. The thefts were noticed after a local auditor recognized discrepancies in financial records and tipped off the authorities. The 70,000-member CSEA has had its share of problems lately. Early in 2009, Carol Bruno, former treasurer of CSEA Local 1000, pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $16,000 from that local, though court documents indicated the thefts totaled approximately $40,000. She was sentenced to three years probation in May.