Creative borrowing for the purpose of covering casino gambling losses has claimed another union leader. And the losses weren’t small change. On April 12, Mervin Hawk, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1640, was charged in a one-count information in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with embezzling more than $600,000 in funds from the Detroit-based union over at least a two-year period. Four days later, at his arraignment, Hawk requested a court-appointed lawyer. The charge follows a joint investigation by the FBI, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Mervin Hawk during 2013-15 was president of AFSCME Local 1640, which represents area social workers. According to court records, he used his authority during this time and beyond to withdraw local funds for purposes entirely unrelated to union business. Most of all, the money wound up in the coffers of the Motor City Casino in Detroit’s North Corktown area. Apparently, he wasn’t such a hot gambler. From sometime in 2013 until April 2016 Hawk deposited over $325,000 in member dues into an unauthorized account at Huntington Bank at which he was the sole signatory. He also opened an unauthorized account at TCF Bank, where he deposited more than $165,000 in union funds. And he withdrew about $130,000 from the union’s primary bank account in about 30 separate transactions and transferred the funds to a personal account. Under new leadership, member dues presumably are being better spent.