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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Oklahoma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 12, 2021

Former Labor Union President Sentenced for Embezzling Union Funds

A former labor union president was sentenced in federal court for embezzling close to $20,000 from the union, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan sentenced Thomas Jerome Burkhart, Jr., 59, of Sapulpa, to three years of probation and ordered him to pay restitution to the labor union in the amount of $19,900. Burkhart pleaded guilty on April 8, 2021, admitting to embezzlement and theft of labor union assets.

“Thomas Burkhart Jr. was trusted by local union members as their president but instead abused his position to steal nearly $20,000 for his own personal use,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “The defendant is now a convicted felon and will pay back Steelworkers Local 145 for the funds he embezzled. My office will continue to work with the Office of Labor-Management Standards to ensure corrupt union leaders like Burkhart are held accountable for their crimes.”

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) opened an investigation after an internal audit by Steelworkers Local 145 revealed a loss of union funds. OLMS found that, from July 2018 to August 2019, Burkhart embezzled union funds by writing approximately 43 unauthorized checks to himself, resulting in a loss of $19,900 to the local union while he served as president of Steelworkers Local 145, located in Henryetta, Oklahoma, from 2014 through 2019.

“While the vast majority of union officials do their work diligently and without incident, OLMS will continue to work with unions to hold accountable anyone that unlawfully exploits their union position to enrich themselves without regard to the best interests of union members,” said Office of Labor-Management Standards District Director Michelle Hussar in Dallas, Texas. “This sentencing and restitution order sends a clear message that there are consequences for individuals who breach the trust placed in them to be good stewards of union funds.”

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey A. Gallant and David D. Whipple prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Public Affairs 918-382-2755
Updated July 12, 2021