DNT pressman charged with stealing union fundsThe former secretary-treasurer of a union that represents Duluth News Tribune pressroom employees is accused of stealing union funds.
By: By Mark Stodghillfirstname.lastname@example.org, Superior Telegram
The former secretary-treasurer of a union that represents Duluth News Tribune pressroom employees is accused of stealing union funds.
James Michael Hill, 51, is charged in St. Louis County District Court with felony theft and theft by swindle for allegedly stealing about $6,500 from the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 29C.
Hill is a pressroom foreman who has been employed by the News Tribune for 33 years. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 20. He couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. His attorney, Christopher Stocke of Duluth, said he couldn’t comment without his client’s permission.
Joseph Crotty, of St. Paul, president of Local 29C said in a phone interview Tuesday that the missing funds were discovered after an audit was conducted when the Local 76C of Duluth merged with Local 29C of St. Paul.
Crotty said a bonding company paid the union $5,000 of the stolen funds and Hill paid back $2,544.93 to cover the missing money and interest.
According to the criminal complaint:
Hill wrote checks from the union checking account to himself and used the money for personal expenses. An audit indicated that Hill allegedly wrote 74 checks to himself on the Local 76C checking account totaling $10,810.78.
Under union by-laws, the secretary-treasurer was allowed to write checks on the union account, but two signatories were required. However, sometime in 2006 or 2007, Hill changed the procedure to allow him to be the sole signatory on the checks, claiming that it was too difficult to get two officers’ signatures every time he wanted to write a check, the complaint alleges.
Hill earned $100 a month for his union work and was permitted to write checks to himself for expenditures he made on behalf of the union. He was secretary-treasurer from about 2000 to March 2010, when he resigned for reasons unrelated to the theft investigation.
A union representative reported the misappropriation of funds to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards early this year. In August, two investigators interviewed Hill at the federal courthouse in Duluth.
During the interview, he admitted writing 74 checks to himself between January 2007 and March of 2010, but denied he changed the signatory procedures so there was less oversight. He said of $10,810.78 in checks that he wrote, he was not entitled to receive $6,553.28 in union funds, the complaint alleges.
The defendant told investigators that he intended to pay the money back, “but it just didn’t work out.”