PORT ARTHUR, Texas - The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that Michael Doggett, business representative for the Carpenters Local Union 502 in Port Arthur, has been sentenced to five months in prison and ordered to make $39,324 in restitution payments for embezzling from a union benefit plan.
Doggett pleaded guilty in January to one count of theft from the Carpenters and Millwrights Local 502 Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee Fund. He served as the union’s training program director and secretary-treasurer from September 2000 until December 2009. Doggett was responsible for overseeing and administering the program’s finances, including payment for expenses, collecting dues and paying property taxes.
“I hope that this case sends a clear message to all who hold an office of trust, or operate or administer apprenticeship and training programs, that the Department of Labor is committed to vigorously pursuing those who abuse their positions and use program funds for personal gain,” said Roger Hilburn, director of the Dallas Regional Office of the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. “We remain committed to eliminating corruption and protecting training plan assets for the exclusive benefit of apprentices.”
“This sentencing shows that justice will be done for those union officers and employees who do not handle union funds prudently and for the benefit of their fellow hard-working members, as required by law,” said Michelle Hussar, director of the Dallas District Office of the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
From Oct. 1, 2005, through Dec. 31, 2009, Doggett embezzled from the apprenticeship and training benefit plan, using the money for items including, but not limited to, bowling, food and beverages, a dating service, car expenses, payments to family and relatives, overdraft fees, payroll, personal payments to other individuals, Internet services, cable services, utility bills and lodging.
An indictment was handed down in September 2010 charging Doggett with stealing from the benefit plan, as well as more than $45,000 from the Local 502 general fund, which he used for personal expenses. As part of the plea agreement, the charge of stealing from the union general fund was dismissed.
Doggett is scheduled to begin his sentence June 27. After completion of his jail term, he has been ordered to spend an additional five months in home detention and is barred from serving as a union officer or employee for 13 years.
The department’s investigation was conducted by EBSA’s Dallas Regional Office, OLMS’ Dallas District Office and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Rawls.
Employers and workers can contact EBSA toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems relating to private sector retirement, health and other benefit plans. More information is available at www.dol.gov/ebsa. Union members can contact OLMS for help with problems within their union relating to union democracy or financial integrity. For more contact information and the location of the nearest OLMS office, visit www.dol.gov/olms.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.