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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Des Moines Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding United Way of Central Iowa and Embezzling from a Labor Union

Des Moines, IA—On April 15, 2019, Theodore Eric Watson, age 54, of Des Moines, Iowa, appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Celeste F. Bremer and entered guilty pleas to Mail Fraud and Embezzlement of Labor Union Assets.

Watson admitted from 2007 until September 2016, while employed as the Business Manager for Local 74 of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (AFL-CIO), he sent fraudulent requests for payment of grant funds for training adults to the United Way of Central Iowa. These fraudulent requests were unauthorized and unknown to Local 74. In one such circumstance, Watson obtained a check in the mail from United Way for $19,000 that Watson converted for his personal use.

Watson also admitted to embezzling from Local 74 by making unauthorized purchases and cash advances on a Local 74 credit card and then concealing the fraud by submitting altered credit card statements and false monthly reports to Local 74. Watson additionally opened a bank account in the name of Local 74, without Local 74’s consent or knowledge. From December 2013 through January 2016, Watson deposited Local 74 funds into this account, but used the money for his own purposes.

Watson faces up to 20 years imprisonment for mail fraud and up to five years imprisonment for embezzlement from the union. The Court will determine the restitution amount at sentencing. Sentencing is presently scheduled for August 23, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. before United States District Court Chief Judge John A. Jarvey at the Des Moines Federal Courthouse.

This matter was investigated by the United States Department of Labor–Management Standards. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Labor & Employment
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Rachel J. Scherle 515-473-9300 USAIAS-PAO@usdoj.gov
Updated April 16, 2019