Ex-union official gets probation in $18G theft

Rufino Sanchez leaves federal court in Central Islip

Rufino Sanchez leaves federal court in Central Islip after posting bail on August 16, 2012. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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A former union official who stole more than $18,000 from his members and spent the money on personal expenses was spared prison time Friday.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt cited the otherwise "good life" led by Rufino Sanchez before sentencing the former president of the New York City metro area branch of the National Association of Government Employees to 4 years' probation. The first six months will be served in home confinement.

Sanchez, who worked for the Federal Aviation Administration in Ronkonkoma as an air traffic controller assistant, faced 8 to 14 months in federal prison at sentencing in Central Islip.

The judge acknowledged that Sanchez, as a union president, engaged in a "violation of fiduciary responsibility of the worst kind," but also said that "the rest of his life has been good."

Sanchez, of East Brunswick, N.J., is an ex-Marine with no previous criminal history. He apologized to his union and his son for stealing union dues and using them for his own purposes while he was union president from December 2004 to November 2010.

"I want to apologize to the union for taking the money and spending it on me," he told the judge. "I want to apologize to my son for not showing a good example."

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He was arrested in August 2012 on 22 counts of mail fraud related to misappropriation of funds. The fraud was uncovered when the U.S. Department of Labor conducted a compliance audit of the union, Local R-310 of the government employees' association based in Manhattan.

Sanchez was ordered to repay $18,765 and will wear an electronic monitoring bracelet during his home confinement.

"We're very appreciative of the judge's sentence," said Sanchez's attorney, Tracey Gaffey. Eastern District federal prosecutor Christopher Ott declined to comment.

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