Green Room

Late Union President’s Astonishing $800K Theft

posted at 9:39 am on April 24, 2013 by

When former Auburn Teachers Association (ATA) president Sally Jo Widmer passed away last November after more than 35 years at the helm of the small New York teachers’ union, former Auburn mayor Guy Cosentino eulogized her as “a true union leader who put her union first and personal niceties second.”

That’s because Cosentino didn’t have access to her checkbook.

Members were informed this week that Widmer misappropriated at least $800,000 in union dues during the period 2006-2012. “It appears that money earmarked for the Association was instead used for meals, gasoline, trips, gambling, clothing, grocery shopping – and for cash advances,” wrote new ATA president Cheryl Miskell. ”Because some old financial records are unavailable, we may never know the full extent of the misappropriations.”

This prodigious feat of embezzlement was accomplished in a union of 390 members, whose share of dues income ranged from $89,000 to $132,000 per year. It is highly likely that Widmer stole money earmarked for transfer to the New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers (similar to a case in Maryland). NYSUT records indicate that ATA was consistently behind on its dues payments by approximately $55,000 each year.

NYSUT conducted a forensic audit late last year and the evidence was turned over to local police and district attorney yesterday. The union is covered by a fidelity bond that may restore some of these losses.

Widmer was a fixture in the community who also served as secretary of the area’s NAACP branch. The high school where she worked closed for the day in her honor when she passed away. A colleague told the Auburn Citizen at the time that “Widmer was generous, sometimes using her own money to help young teachers complete courses so they would have the proper qualifications for teaching.”

“She went out of her way to financially help people,” he said. “She was amazing.”

She certainly was.

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I suppose these people never heard of monthly independent audits…

Khun Joe on April 24, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Khun Joe on April 24, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Math is hard.

Hill60 on April 24, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Math is hard.

Hill60 on April 24, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Not the way unionized teachers teach it!

Shy Guy on April 24, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Why do you rethuglicans hate the children?

Oh, and count on the fact that the state collected these dues for the union as a payroll deduction …

M240H on April 24, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Let’s see… $800K divided by 6 years equals…$133333 each year.

Wow! The union was only pulling in “between $89K and $132K” per year. So this witch stole all the union dues and then some! Quite the feat…

Oh, but she’s black. Ah, well, no harm, no foul, right?

/

Ace ODale on April 24, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Nothing to see here, move along.
Don’t even consider what shenanigans would be found at the AFL-CIO or UAW.

smfic on April 24, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Okay, perp is dead and lose is covered by fidelity (irony alert) bond, have I gone off the cynical deep in or does anyone else think this is incredibly convenient? It’s easy to be “amazing” with other people’s money.

Cindy Munford on April 24, 2013 at 10:40 AM

It’s only “Astonishing” to head-in-the-sand liberals.

KS Rex on April 24, 2013 at 10:45 AM

The left-wing version of Christine O’Donnell?

*** ducks & runs ***

UltimateBob on April 24, 2013 at 11:23 AM

in should be end. You know me.

Cindy Munford on April 24, 2013 at 11:35 AM

UltimateBob on April 24, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Really? I await Ms. O’Donnell’s indictment.

Cindy Munford on April 24, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Another corrupt liebral stealing money from the taxpayers? Color. Me. Shocked.

*CUE Captain Renault*

Dominion on April 24, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Well, you can’t take it with you… but death can help you dodge earthly consequences. However, there is a judgement that can’t be dodged…

The union is covered by a fidelity bond that may restore some of these losses.

What the heck does that mean? Does the money just magically regrow on the QE-Infinity money tree?

Marcola on April 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM

”Because some old financial records are unavailable, we may never know the full extent of the misappropriations.”

.
How old are the records and why are they “unavailable?” Look for the union label, right?

ExpressoBold on April 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Now they’ll probably name a school after her.

Ward Cleaver on April 24, 2013 at 12:49 PM

”Because some old financial records are unavailable, we may never know the full extent of the misappropriations.”

.
How old are the records and why are they “unavailable?” Look for the union label, right?

ExpressoBold on April 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Did you miss the “we may never know” part? That’s an inquiry ender.

BL@KBIRD on April 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM

BL@KBIRD on April 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM

But it shouldn’t be. I know that they can’t do anything (except maybe get more money out of the fidelity bond) but it sure might be a good idea to get a complete picture on how it happened to prevent it from happening again. If they care.

Cindy Munford on April 24, 2013 at 1:42 PM

“She went out of her way to financially help people,”

Especially herself.

Aviator on April 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM

How much longer is it going to take for Union Members to figure out that they shouldn’t trust their Union Leaders?

wren on April 24, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Wren

You’re kidding, right? They’re union members!

EdmundBurke247 on April 24, 2013 at 5:19 PM

One of the defining characteristics of liberals is their willingness to be generous with somebody else’s wealth.

Normally they do it through tax redistribution and forcing everybody to pay for their imbecilic, socially destructive policies; this lady was more efficient and cut-out-the middleman.

YiZhangZhe on April 24, 2013 at 7:11 PM

“Late Union President’s Astonishing $800K Theft”
…of course, the “astonishing” part is that it’s ONLY $800K. (Clearly, if this guy were an OBOZO “green” crony capitalist, he could have gotten away with MILLIONS.)

TeaPartyNation on April 24, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Math is hard.

Hill60 on April 24, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Not the way unionized teachers teach it!

Shy Guy on April 24, 2013 at 10:25 AM

They teach math?
Who knew?

Amendment X on April 24, 2013 at 7:40 PM

I thought all the fights against the efforts to rein in the teachers’ unions were because we were hurting the children. Silly me.

$800m is chump change though compared to what is currently unfolding in Wisconsin. The UW system has managed to accumulate $700 million in excess funds that they have yet to find a reason to p**s away (had they had just a few more days before the auditors showed up they would have found a home for it).

But keep posting these stories. As a retired auditor, I find the lack of internal controls over other peoples’ money shocking.

teejk on April 24, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Where the weeds are, there they will hide.

starboardhelm on April 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Well, since it didn’t travel up the food chain, it didn’t end up electing Socialists. Just greasing a few future voters. Oh, and “stimulating” the local economy. So there’s that

winoceros on April 24, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Did you miss the “we may never know” part? That’s an inquiry ender.

BL@KBIRD on April 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM

.
I didn’t miss it. I just took the Øbama approach and ignored it.

ExpressoBold on April 24, 2013 at 9:12 PM

Not as bad as the union leaders who would arrange for a bunch of outside workers to be massacred to create a favorable political climate for contract negotiations.

Slowburn on April 24, 2013 at 10:16 PM