For Rick Drain, old habits die hard. And the consequences this time may include a stretch in prison. Last Monday, July 13, Drain, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1085, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to one count of embezzling $50,281 in funds from the Parkersburg-based union, which represents several hundred area construction and public service workers. He had been charged in March following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. He faces up to five years in prison at sentencing this October.
According to prosecutors, Drain, now 56, a resident of Vienna (Wood County), W.Va., used his position as local business manager to divert member dues and other fees into his own pockets. He apparently had a history of this sort of thing. Back in 2009, he and the local were named as defendants in an unlawful termination suit filed by a former employee, Debra Ann Pryor. The woman had claimed she was fired in retaliation for refusing to cover for Drain, who was suspected of stealing union funds. Obviously in no position to cite this as a motive for firing her, he cited a need for budget-cutting. Yet Pryor had been paid less than union scale. A more likely reason was her stated refusal to donate money to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She lost that case; the court declined to grant her relief. This time, however, Drain won’t have a happy ending. Following his plea, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart remarked: “You can’t make up story lines like this – a man named Drain draining the union of its hard-earned money solely for personal greed. These union members deserved far better.”