Sandhogs Union Official Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Tens of Millions of Dollars
Sandhogs Union official Melissa King pleaded guilty Friday to charges of embezzling tens of millions of dollars from the construction union, according to federal prosecutors.
King, from Irvington N.Y., was administrator of the union Local 147’s benefit funds. The 1,000-member union, known as the Sandhogs, includes the Compressed Air and Free Air Foundations, Tunnels, Caissons, Subways, Cofferdams and Sewer Construction Workers Local 147.
Between 2002 and 2008, King embezzled millions of dollars by writing checks that transferred huge sums of money out of the Local 147 Funds’ bank account into a personal account controlled by King, reported Courthouse News.
According the plea, “she then used the embezzled funds to finance her expensive lifestyle.”
Examples of ways in which she spent the money include:
- at least $5.5 million to buy, maintain, and transport horses
- at least $1,000,000 for fine and antique jewelry
- at least $7 million paid to American Express for personal expenses
- at least $300,000 paid to Neiman Marcus for women’s clothing
- at least $150,000 paid to the Ritz Carlton Palm Beach
- at least $99,000 for travel on private jets
- at least $900,000 to pay the mortgage on her home
- $25,000 per month in rent for an apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan
- at least $300,000 to pay for luxury automobiles
King was fired by the union on Dec. 31, 2008 and was arrested on Nov. 30, 2009.
“Since her arrest, the government has seized and restrained many of King’s assets, including her home, which was appraised at $2.1 million, four luxury cars, jewelry, more than 400 bottles of fine wine, and several bank accounts,” prosecutors said.
King has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and tax fraud. She faces up to 8 years in prison at her Feb. 17 sentencing and is currently free on bond.