Thomas Popillo is a good example of what happens to a union when one person has total control over its finances. On August 7, Popillo, former president of Communications Workers of America Local 81266, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $37,568.68 from the union, which represents employees at the Fenn metal forming machinery plant in Newington. He was released on a $25,000 bond pending sentencing. The plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Popillo, now 61, a resident of Newington, headed the 90-member CWA Local 81266 during 2003-17, also serving as its secretary-treasurer during 2003-15. In effect, he enjoyed no oversight. That gave him a virtual license to steal. And he used that license frequently. According to prosecutors, he wrote unauthorized checks to himself from a union bank account and made unauthorized purchases with the union debit card. When sentenced, Popillo faces a maximum prison term of five years.