The founder and president of a private security officers’ union in Washington D.C. was convicted last week of 18 different federal offenses. He faces a maximum of 183 years in prison and $2.1 million in fines.
A jury ruled on September 5 that Caleb Gray-Burriss, founder and president of the National Association of Special Police and Security Officers (NASPSO), was guilty of six counts of mail fraud, seven counts of theft from a labor organization, one count of criminal contempt, one count of obstruction of justice, and three union record-keeping violations.
Gray-Burriss’s conviction is the latest addition to a lengthy federal rap sheet amassed by the nation’s labor leaders so far this year.
A Department of Justice press release broke down the convictions:
According to the evidence at trial, from approximately June 2004 through February 2011, Gray-Burriss wrote numerous checks to himself or to other third parties from the NASPSO pension plan checking account. The evidence also showed that Gray-Burriss spent more than $100,000 of the pension plan funds in this way, while falsely maintaining it was an operational fund that he was properly administering and that was providing benefits to the beneficiaries. The evidence further showed that Gray-Burriss committed criminal contempt of a court order addressing his prior misappropriation of pension and health plan funds after Gray-Burriss resumed his scheme in 2009 to defraud employers and NASPSO members of pension funds.
In addition, the evidence presented at trial showed that Gray-Burriss, while an officer and employee of NASPSO, stole over $150,000 in NASPSO funds consisting of cash withdrawals to himself, unauthorized salary increases and bonuses to himself and another person, fraudulently drawn checks to himself – purportedly for employment taxes on behalf of NASPSO – and unlawfully used NASPSO funds to pay his personal fines in a civil lawsuit.
The jury also found that Gray-Burriss committed obstruction of justice by destroying or concealing NASPSO financial records during a grand jury investigation; failing to file required annual reports on behalf of NASPSO, falsifying those reports, and failing to maintain properly the records of NASPSO.
The conviction lends weight to calls for greater protections for labor union whistleblowers, which are currently lacking.
Under current law, explained Heritage labor policy expert James Sherk, “a union president can legally fire [other union] officials for virtually any reason—including reporting misconduct. Nothing in the law shields union officials from retaliation for whistle-blowing, even though they are the people most likely to uncover corruption.”