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Nov. 18, 2010


Thirteen false hotel receipts submitted for travel reimbursement

(HOUSTON) – After less than half an hour of deliberation, a federal jury has convicted a former postal union officer for submitting false travel receipts seeking and obtaining more than $10,000 in union funds in reimbursement, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Frankie Sanders, 48, of Houston, a U.S. Postal Service employee since 1982, was convicted by a jury’s verdict of submitting false hotel receipts to the American Postal Worker's Union (APWU) from January 2006 to June 2006. The jury returned its verdict late yesterday following the two-day trial and brief deliberation.

During trial, the jury heard that from 2004 to 2006 Sanders served as the Southern Regional Coordinator of the APWU based in Houston. In December 2005, Sanders was also appointed trustee of the New Orleans local office to deal with union related issues following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Sanders also served as a National Business Agent with APWU from 1992 to 2004. 

Evidence during trial proved that Sanders submitted a total of 13 false hotel receipts in excess of $10,000 for purported union travel during a six-month period following Hurricane Katrina. During trial, the jury learned that the investigation leading to the charges was initiated after an internal audit by APWU National discovered unauthorized vouchers. Eleven of the receipts submitted by Sanders for reimbursement from union funds were purported to be from the Hilton Garden Inn - New Orleans and two from Hilton Garden Inn - Dallas Fort Worth. An agent with the U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Labor Management Standards testified the Hilton Garden Inn - New Orleans hotel was closed to the public from August 2005 to April 2006 due to wind, water and significant roof damages from Hurricane Katrina. Testimony further established that Sanders' New Orleans hotel folios could not have been generated by the Hilton’s system because the Hilton's computers, server and smart chip were not operational during the dates of the alleged stays. Through additional testimony and documentary evidence, the jury learned that itemized entries on all of the receipts contained information inconsistent with smart chip technology and with legitimate receipts associated with Sanders’ prior travel to these locations to include:  non-existent room number, wrong room codes, the wrong tax rates, wrong rate plan, the wrong restaurant name, reference numbers, Hilton brand logo, the wrong font, typeset and addition errors.  

Sanders  faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine for the theft of union funds conviction. Sanders has been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing. United States District Judge Lynn N. Hughes, who presided over the trial, has ordered the preparation of a presentence investigative report. A sentencing date has not yet been set. The second count of the original indictment charging Sanders with wire fraud arising from the theft of union funds scheme remains pending.   

Special Assistant United States Attorney Tammie Y. Moore and Special Assistant United States Attorney Demetrius Bivins prosecuted the case. The investigation leading to the theft of union funds charge was conducted by U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Labor Management Standards with the substantial assistance of the APWU National in Washington, D.C.  

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