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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Business Manager of Local Union and Trustee of Electrical Workers’ Retirement Plan Sentenced to Fifteen Months in Prison for Embezzlement and Wire Fraud

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Melvin Fishburn, 57, of Charleston, South Carolina was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment and three years’ supervised release by United States District Judge Edward G. Smith for stealing from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, Local Union #743 (“IBEW Local 743”) and National Electrical Contractors Association Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter, Reading Division Retirement Plan (the “Retirement Plan”). He was also ordered to pay restitution of $81,413 and a special assessment of $800.

On July 17, 2019, Fishburn entered a guilty plea to an indictment charging him with four counts of embezzlement and four counts of wire fraud. Fishburn was the business manager for IBEW Local 743 and a trustee of the Retirement Plan. From July 2010 until June 2014, he stole $81,413 from the Retirement Plan and plan participants through an elaborate scheme by which he submitted disbursement requests from a shell entity he created for services that were never provided to, and expenses that were never incurred by, the Retirement Plan. Fishburn, in his capacity as trustee of the Retirement Plan, authorized the illegal payment of plan assets to the shell entity and had the checks mailed to a Post Office Box under his control.

“Fishburn abused his position of trust and betrayed union members to line his own pockets,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “That is reprehensible. He had a fiduciary duty under ERISA to take actions that benefit the Retirement Plan, but instead, he breached that duty in order to serve his own interests. My Office will aggressively pursue criminal conduct like this and will hold accountable those who deprive workers of benefits that are rightfully theirs.”

“Melvin Fishburn created a fictitious consulting company for the sole purpose of embezzling more than $80,000 from the IBEW Retirement Plan. Fishburn abused his position as a plan trustee in order to deprive hard-working union members of money set aside for their retirement. We will continue to work with the Employee Benefit Security Administration and our other law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of labor unions and their benefit plans,” said Derek Pickle, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Philadelphia Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

“Prosecuting those who misuse funds from employee benefit plans is a vital aspect of EBSA’s mission to protect the rights of America’s workers,” said Michael Schloss, Employee Benefit Security Administration’s (EBSA) Regional Director in Philadelphia. “EBSA will continue to aggressively investigate such crimes on behalf of workers nationwide.”

The case was investigated by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations-Labor Racketeering and Fraud, as well as the Employee Benefits Security Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary Kay Costello.

Topic(s): 
Labor & Employment
Contact: 
MICHAEL CAVACINI Media Contact 215-861-8300
Updated March 5, 2020