Former Postal Worker And Union Treasurer Indicted For Embezzling Union Funds
SAN JUAN, P.R. - On December 28, 2016, a Federal Grand Jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging Amalia López-Santiago, a former treasurer of the American Postal Workers Union (“APWU”) Local 1070 (the “Union”), with embezzlement of funds of said labor organization in an amount in excess of $92,965.89. The Indictment charges López-Santiago with one count of embezzlement of union funds, one count of false statements to the federal government, one count of aggravated identity theft, and four counts of wire fraud.
United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez, Andriana Vamvakas, the New York District Director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (“DOL-OLMS”), and Douglas A. Leff, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Puerto Rico Field Office (“FBI”) made the announcement.
According to the indictment, from January, 2008 through June 2, 2012, López-Santiago, who was the Union’s Treasurer, authorized salary payments and reimbursement for lost wages and benefits on her own behalf in excess of the amounts actually allowed and authorized under the Union’s Constitution and Bylaws totaling approximately $77,543.30. Pursuant to the charging document, she submitted fraudulent claims for wage reimbursement and authorized duplicate or excessive salary payments.
The indictment also alleges that she used the Union’s credit card at a local wholesale supermarket to purchase personal items valued in excess of $15,422.59 without lawful authority and issued payments from APWU Local 1070’s bank account to cover the expense for those unlawfully procured items. The Indictment further alleges that in order to conceal the misuse and theft of Union funds, López-Santiago made false statements and omissions in the Union’s annual financial reports for the fiscal years 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
“The United States Attorney’s Office, in partnership with our fellow federal investigative agencies, will continue to investigate and prosecute union officials who abuse their positions of trust,” said Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Let this be a clear message, that stealing and embezzling from labor unions carries serious penalties and consequences, including prison and fines.”
OLMS District Director Andriana Vamvakas said: “Embezzlement of union funds doesn’t only violate the law, it also betrays the trust of the union membership who rightfully expect their officials to protect and safeguard their union’s funds and assets. We thank USA Rodríguez-Vélez and SAC Douglas A. Leff for the valuable assistance they provided to the U.S. Department of Labor in this investigation and for the excellent work completed in the presentation of charges. We look forward to working again with these and other agencies to root out such corruption and abuse by union officers or members.”
“Those who defraud civil organizations created to benefit their fellow workers and betray the values they have sworn to protect will face the strength and reach of the criminal justice system. The FBI is proud to have assisted in this investigation and recognizes the outstanding work of the Department of Labor, and the diligence of the United States Attorney, in identifying and rooting out this type of deceitful conduct,” said Douglas A. Leff, SAC FBI San Juan.
This case was investigated by the DOL-OLMS and the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennise N. Longo Quiñones of the Financial Fraud and Corruption Unit.
Pursuant to the charges, Amalia López-Santiago faces potential penalties of up to five years of imprisonment for the embezzlement or theft of union assets, up to five years of imprisonment for false statements made to the federal government, a mandatory minimum term of two years of imprisonment for aggravated identity theft, and up to a term of imprisonment of 20 years for wire fraud. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.