The prospect of a long sentence, if nothing else, apparently has induced Diana Frey to change her mind. A document filed Monday, August 22, in Cincinnati federal court indicates that Frey, until recently the president of an independent local government employees union, Cincinnati Organized and Dedicated Employees (CODE), has signaled her intent to plead guilty at a hearing tentatively scheduled for September 21. She is accused of embezzling more than $750,000 from the union over more than six years. On July 20, she pleaded not guilty to the thefts, which had been uncovered by a Department of Labor probe triggered by an anonymous tip. While neither Frey nor her attorney have commented, court documents such as this typically precede a plea agreement.
Union Corruption Update reported several weeks ago that Frey, 51, an administrative specialist with the Metropolitan Sewer District, for six and a half years had diverted $757,009 in member dues to her use. She pleaded not guilty after being indicted for wire fraud. The indictment stated that she “knowingly and willfully devised…a scheme” to move CODE funds to her accounts and “misrepresented the CODE finances to the other CODE officers and members.” CODE board members, while acknowledging insufficient oversight, say Frey kept her thefts out of view through a combination of bluster and evasion. Facing up to 20 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, her desire to cop a plea is understandable. In the meantime, the sewer district is in the process of severing her employment.