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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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A former president of the United Steelworkers Local 5000 union has been charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the labor union.

David R. Sager, 58, of Gibsonburg, was indicted on nine counts of embezzlement or theft, 18 counts of mail fraud, one count of obstructing justice and one count of making false statements to law enforcement officials.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Northern District of Ohio Office, Local 5000, which is based in Middleburg Heights, went on strike in 2009 after failing to reach a contract agreement with a company identified as Company 2 in the indictment. The company proposed eliminating the position of contract coordinator, which Sager held.

The union began to establish a strike fund and Sager and two other union officials were signatories on the bank account, according to the indictment.

To claim strike fund benefits, members had to submit a voucher and a copy of a bill. The voucher was then reviewed by a committee on which Sager served. Once approved, the voucher and documentation was forwarded to the fund signatories for approval. A union official identified in the indictment as labor official 2 issued checks as payments on the vouchers.

The indictment contends Sager submitted more than $185,000 in vouchers to receive fund benefits between 2010 and 2012. According to the indictment, he and his wife had nearly $160,000 in income during that time and while collecting fund benefits he purchased concert tickets and dined out at several restaurants.

The strike ended in 2012 and the company reinstated Sager as a wheelsman and assigned him to work aboard a vessel, He received personal leave and didn’t return to work on the vessel. The company terminated his employment.

On May 16, 2013, an employee of another company sent an email to some employees which noted, “We are on the verge of losing Local 5000 if we can’t come up with an arrangement and I am afraid (another union) will pick up the pieces and become the sole course of crew manpower on the lakes,” the indictment says, citing union sources.

On July 11, 2013, that company and another signed a joint employment trust agreement with Local 5000, which they renewed a year later. A company identified as company 3 refused to participate in the agreement and told Sager and others it violated the Taft-Hartley Act.

In May 2014, an employee of company 3 sent an email to coworkers stating: “You will notice that (Local 5000) is coming back at us for the Joint Employment Trust (aka Sager’s pay),” the indictment says.

It contends Sager received about $203,500 from 2013 to 2015 from Local 5000 checks that were funded in part by payments from companies 4 and 5 through the trust agreement.

Local 5000 represented about 100 employees working for companies around the Great Lakes. Sager served as president of the local from 1999 through April 2016, the indictment says.


Embezzling charge
A criminal information has been filed charging Aaron M. Contreras, 34, of Fostoria, with embezzlement of union funds.

While working as financial secretary of a labor union, Contreras embezzled about $42,700 from the union during 2015, according to the information, which alleges he prepared a false financial report to conceal the embezzlement.

Including ATM fees, the loss to the union was $43,293.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards in Cleveland is the investigating agency.

 

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