A former treasurer of Utility Workers Local 365 pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing more than $110,000 from the Nassau County-based union, prosecutors said.
Charles Burke, 47, of Oceanside, made his plea before District Court Judge Martin Massell to one count of scheme to defraud in the second degree, a misdemeanor.
Burke could spend up to a year in prison and is due back for sentencing June 13, prosecutors said.
He paid back the union $70,000 before his arrest, and the Nassau district attorney’s office said he would be ordered to pay the remaining $41,000 in restitution through the probation department.
“For more than five years, the defendant lined his pockets with the union dues of his fellow union members,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “With today’s plea, the defendant is now forced to repay the money he has stolen. I thank our partners at the U.S. Department of Labor who helped us investigate and prosecute this case.”
Under terms of the plea, Burke will not do any time in jail but he will get 3 years’ probation, said Burke’s Garden City attorney Ronald Beckoff.
“He is a good man, he’s a family man,” Beckoff said. “He had a problem, which has been resolved. I’m confident the courts will never see him again.”
Beckoff said the remaining money will be paid back over the course of the next three years.
Burke’s theft was uncovered when Local 365 in October 2014 was notified by the Utility Workers Union of America International treasurer that more than two years of payments due had not been received, prosecutors said.
Singas said that in addition to withholding dues Burke wrote checks to himself and made withdrawals from Local 365’s bank accounts without the union’s knowledge. Singas said Burke admitted stealing the money for personal use.
Because he pleaded guilty, Burke will be barred from holding office in any union, prosecutors said.