Denial isn’t an option for Benardette Beal anymore. On February 24, Beal, former president of Downeast Federation of Healthcare Professionals Local 5073, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release for embezzling $25,536.91 in union funds over a six-year period. She also was ordered to pay $24,131.32 in restitution plus a $100 special assessment.
According to court statements, Beal, 59, a resident of Jonesport, Maine, lashed out at union members who had become suspicious that she had mishandled apparently missing funds. She also forged signatures to conceal her thefts when the union’s state and national organizations began asking questions. She pleaded guilty in August. The union represents employees of the Narraguagus Bay Health Care Facility, a nursing home in the Maine coastal community of Milbridge. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.