HAMMOND | A 57-year-old Hammond woman pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to embezzling funds from International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 374 in Hammond.
Karen L. Stone faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, court records state. She will have a sentencing hearing before Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen on May 14.
Stone, who was hired as a bookkeeper at the union hall in April 2008, was ordered to repay the union $9,169 as part of her plea agreement with federal prosecutors, court records state.
“We are happy justice is being done. We hope it doesn’t happen again,” said Dan McWhirter, Local 374 business manager and secretary/treasurer. He said Stone has been terminated from her position. He declined to explain how the theft was uncovered.
Stone was responsible for collecting cash payments of union dues and retail items Local 374 sold to its members. She also maintained the union’s financial records, arranged for electronic transfers of funds, administered payroll and draft checks for review and signature of Local 374 officers.
In her plea agreement, Stone admits that beginning around May 11, 2007, she willfully embezzled and stole money from Local 374 for personal benefit and use, court records state.
Continuing through Sept. 30, 2011, Stone used the union’s computer system and signed checks and used signature stamps of Local 374 officers to take union funds for her personal use without knowledge or permission of her supervisors, court records state. She received proceeds from nine unauthorized checks and cashed them at the union’s local banks.
She then used the union’s computer payroll system to create 71 weekly salary payments directed to herself. She also transferred funds from the union’s bank accounts to her personal accounts using direct deposit.