Jason Richard sought leniency. And he got it – up to a point. On April 12, Richard, formerly secretary-treasurer for United Steelworkers Local 12-990, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to six months in prison and two years of supervised release for embezzling more than $40,000 in funds from the Wallula union. He also will have to pay residual restitution. The union represents workers at the Boise paper mill near Pasco operated by The Packaging Corporation of America. Richard had pleaded guilty last December following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Richard, now 42, became a union official in December 2014. It didn’t take long for him to raid local coffers. According to prosecutors, during January-October 2015 he wrote himself four unauthorized union checks, and also made 74 debit card purchases and 25 balance transfers for personal use. Other union officials, noticing their treasury on the low side, requested a Department of Labor probe. After being interviewed by investigators, he admitted to his wrongdoing and made two restitution payments totaling about $9,400. At sentencing, Richard’s lawyer asked for a waiver of prison time so as to retain employment, emphasizing his client’s absence of prior criminal offenses and recent family illnesses. U.S. District Judge Sal Mendoza, in ordering a six-month prison term, stated that Richard’s case resembled other embezzlement cases in which he had issued a similar sentence.