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Contractor CEO Gets Prison for Union Theft

Thursday, March 2, 2017

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A Washington, D.C. area builder will serve more than five years behind bars for his involvement in a scheme to steal more than $1.7 million from a labor union, authorities have announced.

Gary Amoes Cooper, 57, of Kettering, Maryland, the owner and CEO of STS General Contracting, was sentenced Monday (Feb. 27) by U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of the District of Columbia, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

labor union
© iStock.com / Kuzma

LIUNA’s Local 657, now merged into LIUNA Local 11, represents construction laborers in Washington, D.C., and five adjacent counties.

In addition to 68 months in prison, the judge also ordered Cooper to pay $1.632 million in restitution to the labor union and to forfeit $1.734 million in criminally-derived proceeds.

Cooper was convicted of conspiracy to commit theft from a labor organization, conspiracy to make unfair labor payments, wire fraud and money laundering following a jury trial that ended in November.

The Greenbelt, Maryland-based contracting company could not be reached for comment Wednesday (March 1). The company does not have a website.

Theft Conspiracy

Cooper and his co-defendant, Christopher Andrew Kwegan, who served as president of STS General Contracting, conspired with Anthony Wendel Frederick Sr., the former business manager of Local 657 of the Laborers Union of North America (LIUNA), to steal funds from the union for personal use.

LIUNA’s Local 657, now merged into LIUNA Local 11, represents construction laborers in Washington, D.C., and five adjacent counties. Union officials did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the case.

According to the evidence at trial, from May 2013 to June 2014, Frederick directed more than $1.7 million in Local 657 funds to STS General Contracting for an unauthorized construction project and other work which STS General Contracting did not intend to perform, prosecutors said.

Paying Off Official

Cooper and Kwegan then made a number of financial payments to Frederick with the funds stolen from Local 657.

FBI Sign
© iStock.com / krblokhin

The FBI and Department of Labor investigated the case.

Those payments included a $225,000 down payment on a home Frederick purchased and more than $600,000 to a corporation owned in part by Frederick’s wife and Cooper.

Frederick served as the business manager for the union for a period of 10 years.

In addition, Cooper and Kwegan were accused of depleting an STS bank account containing only stolen Local 657 funds by withdrawing more than $400,000 in cash, sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to third parties in Qatar and using the remainder for personal items, entertainment, shopping trips, hotel stays and overseas travel.

Others Sentenced

Frederick, 51, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to similar charges; on Feb. 7, he was sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.632 million in restitution to Local 657 and to forfeit $1.734 million.

Kwegan, 58, of Randallstown, Maryland, also previously pleaded guilty to the same offenses and was sentenced on Feb. 8. 

All three men were originally charged in October 2015. The FBI and Department of Labor investigated the case.

   

Tagged categories: Associations; Business matters; Contractors; Criminal acts; Ethics; Fraud; Labor; Laws and litigation; Unions

Comment from Gregory Stoner, (3/2/2017, 8:57 AM)

Your best line of defense is oversight. Part of that can be accomplished by having three signatures on each check.


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