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Published: Monday, 5/11/2009

Former Laborers Local official pleads guilty to union embezzlement


A former official for Laborers Union Local 500 admitted to embezzling thousands of dollars from the union during his employment as business manager during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Toledo Monday.

Steven Thomas, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of labor union embezzlement. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

A similar count will be dismissed at his Aug. 4 sentencing date before Judge Jack Zouhary.

Thomas worked for the union until May, 2007. According to a July, 2008, indictment, he used a Local 500 credit card to pay for $17,500 worth of expenses at strip clubs between December, 2003, and December, 2004. The second count, which will be dismissed at sentencing, pertains to Thomas receiving cash advances for travel between September, 2001, and October, 2005. Those cash advances equaled about $11,000, but "for which he did not provide receipts or for which he did not incur legitimate union expense."

As part of a plea agreement, Thomas will be ordered to pay restitution on both counts. The amount has yet be determined.

A second employee, Thomas Leonard, pleaded guilty Oct. 2 to using a credit card given to him by the construction union to pay for $4,386 in expenses at two strip clubs – Scarlett’s Gentlemen’s Club in Toledo and Kahoot’s Gentlemen’s Club in Columbus. Authorities said that the personal expenses charged at the establishments were reimbursed by the union despite not being authorized by the union board or membership.

He was sentenced in January to one year of probation.

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