Former Union Official Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Money from Union
ALBUQUERQUE – Leonard Bridge, II, 44, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty yesterday to embezzling assets from a labor organization. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the parties will recommend that the court sentence Bridge to a prison term within the range of 12 to 24 months followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Bridge also will have to pay $140,877.56 in restitution to the union.
Bridge was indicted in Feb. 2014 and charged with 20 counts of embezzlement of assets from a labor organization. According to the indictment, Bridge embezzling money belonging to the International Union of Elevator Constructors, Local 131, on 20 separate occasions between April 2009 and Aug. 2011. Bridge perpetrated his embezzlement scheme by writing checks on the Union’s bank account, making case withdrawals with a debit card, and making cash withdrawals from the bank account. Bridge was employed as the business manager for the Union from Jan. 2009 through Nov. 2011.
During yesterday’s hearing, Bridge entered a guilty plea to Count 1 of the indictment. In his plea agreement, Bridge admitted while he was the union’s business manager, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the union and that his financial responsibilities included preparing and signing check on the union’s bank accounts, making disbursements, maintaining financial records, and reporting on the union’s finances to the union’s board and membership. Bridge admitted that while serving as the union’s business manager, he embezzled union funds for his own use. Bridge accomplished the embezzlement in a variety of ways, including paying himself excess salary, writing unauthorized checks to himself, making unauthorized purchases on the union’s debit card, and making unauthorized cash withdrawals from the union’s bank account. Bridge acknowledged that when he took office, the union had approximately $106,000.00 in its general account; when he resigned, the general account had $2,400.00.
This case was investigated by the Office of Labor-Management Standards of the U.S. Department of Labor and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Paige Messec.