MANHATTAN (CN) – A Sandhogs Union official admitted she embezzled “tens of millions of dollars” from the construction union, federal prosecutors said. Melissa King pleaded guilty to the charges on Friday.
King, of Irvington, N.Y., was administrator of the union Local 147’s benefit funds.
The 1,000-member union – the Compressed Air and Free Air Foundations, Tunnels, Caissons, Subways, Cofferdams, Sewer Construction Workers Local 147 – is known as the Sandhogs.
Between 2002 and 2008, King embezzled tens of millions of dollars by writing checks that transferred huge sums of money out of the Local 147 Funds’ bank accounts into a King Care account that she controlled,” prosecutors said in a statement announcing the plea.
It continued: “She then used the embezzled funds to finance her expensive lifestyle. Examples of the ways in which King spent the embezzled funds 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.”
The union fired her on Dec. 31, 2008, and she 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 pleaded guilty to embezzlement and tax fraud. She faces up to 8 years in prison at her Feb. 17, 2010 sentencing. She is free on bond.