Hillsboro man pleads guilty to federal charges after stealing St. Helens union funds
A Hillsboro man pleaded guilty Thursday, Dec. 20, in federal court to one count of concealing or destroying labor union records in relation to his employment at St. Helens-based Pacific Stainless Products.
According to court documents, between 2008 and 2016, Burgess served as the president of Local 304, an independent labor union representing approximately 140 employees of Pacific Stainless Products (PSP), a manufacturer of stainless steel equipment headquartered in St. Helens, a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office notes.
Local 304 represents its members in negotiating with Pacific Stainless Products on employment issues and, under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), is required to file an annual financial report with the Secretary of Labor. Members fund the union entirely through biweekly dues of $12.50 withheld from their paychecks.
As president, Burgess was added as a signatory to Local 304's bank account in 2011 and received a debit card linked to the account. At around the same time, Burgess assumed responsibility for maintaining the union's financial records as required by LMRDA. Burgess was not authorized to draw any compensation for his duties as an officer of Local 304, the press release notes.
Burgess was fired from Pacific Stainless Products in January 2016 and thus became ineligible to continue as a member or officer of Local 304. He surrendered his debit card linked to the union's bank account, but did not produce or otherwise make available the financial records he had maintained during his time as president. Burgess admitted to abusing his position to convert to personal use more than $32,000 in union funds while failing to keep or disclose receipts relating to his unauthorized expenditures as required under LMRDA, the press release indicates.
Burgess faces a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison, a $100,000 fine and a one-year term of supervised release. He will be sentenced on April 10, before U.S. District Court Judge Anna J. Brown. As part of the plea agreement, Burgess will pay restitution of no less than $10,600 to Local 304, as ordered by the court. Burgess has already repaid $21,580 to the union.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards, investigated this case. It is being prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.