A Maryland construction contractor has been sentenced to a prison term for his role in a theft of funds from a construction union local, the Dept. of Justice says.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 27 sentenced Gary Amoes Cooper to 68 months in prison for stealing more than $1.7 million from Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 657, according to DOJ.
Last November, Cooper, owner and CEO of STS General Contracting, Greenbelt, Md., was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to commit theft from the union local, conspiracy to make unfair labor payments, as well as wire fraud and money laundering.
At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta also directed Cooper, 57, to pay $1.6 million in restitution to the union local and to forfeit $1.7 million in what Justice termed “criminally derived proceeds.”
Cooper’s sentencing is the latest development in the case, which originated many months ago. Last Oct. 31, Anthony Wendel Frederick Sr., Local 657’s former business manager, pleaded guilty to the same offenses and on Feb. 7 was sentenced to 48 months in prison.
In addition, Christopher Andrew Kwegan, STS president and a co-conspirator, pleaded guilty and on Feb. 8 was sentenced to 36 months in prison, Justice said.
DOJ said Frederick had admitted he had directed more than $1.7 million from the union local to STS General Contracting without the knowledge or approval of Local 657’s executive board or LIUNA International officials.
STS executives made payments to Frederick from those funds, DOJ said. Some of the money went toward a down payment on a house Frederick purchased and for building a garage at that site. In addition, more than $600,000 went to a company of which Frederick’s wife was a part owner, according to evidence at trial, the department said.
DOJ also said that, according to trial evidence, Frederick and Kwegan emptied a STS bank account containing more than $400,000 in stolen Local 657 funds. Hundreds of thousands of those dollars went to “third parties in Qatar” and the rest went for “personal items, entertainment, shopping trips, hotel stays and overseas travel,” DOJ said.
In June 2014, LIUNA removed Frederick from his position at the local after a union audit and investigation of the charges, according to a 2015 federal criminal complaint filed in court. DOJ added that LIUNA put Local 657 into a trusteeship and forwarded the matter to the Justice Dept.
According to DOJ, Local 657 has been merged into LIUNA Local 11. It represented workers in the District of Columbia and five nearby counties.
Story updated on Feb. 28 to include info from Justice Dept. regarding Christopher Andrew Kwegan's sentence.
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