Joseph Grygorcewicz passed himself off as two people – himself and the union president. Unfortunately, he couldn’t maintain the disguise. On November 29, Grygorcewicz, former secretary-treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 1566, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to embezzling $39,989.72 in funds from the Tonawanda (suburban Buffalo) N.Y.-based union, which represents area railroad workers. He had paid back about $14,000 by the time union officials discovered the missing money. The plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
According to federal prosecutors, Grygorcewicz, 63, a resident of Amherst, N.Y., stole the funds during late 2009-early 2011. As secretary-treasurer, he was authorized to write union checks. At the same time, local rules required two signatures. He got around that problem by forging the signature of the union president. He used the proceeds of the cashed checks for his own purposes. Suspicion by union officials led to a Department of Labor probe and eventually a formal charge. Grygorcewicz faces a prison sentence of between six and 12 months.