Ronald & Anita Witt: Union Officials Lived High Life on Members' Money, Feds Say

Categories: Crime

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Signs point to fraud, feds say.
A husband-wife team of union officials lived the high life on members' money, federal prosecutors charged in indictments announced today.

Ronald Witt, 64, and his wife Anita, 56, were respectively the business manager and treasurer of local 450 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, whose members operate heavy equipment, mechanics and surveyors.

Prosecutors say the Witts embezzled funds from the union and its apprentice school -- best to teach the young'uns the rough ways of the world early -- and they spent it in style: "luxury trips for themselves and their friends, recreational travel trailers, purchases at hardware stores, personal meal expenses, rebuilding their Galveston home and depositing unearned union checks into their bank accounts," the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

"These investigations are an example of our efforts to safeguard union democracy and ensure union financial integrity so that workers can have a more effective voice in the governance of their unions and a collective voice in the workplace," said Daniel Cherry of the Office of Labor Management Standards. "We hope this will encourage union members and others with knowledge of illegal practices to come forward and expose corrupt leadership to help us meet our goals."

The investigation came at the request of the main office of the IUOE, which took over management of the local and sued the Witts over their alleged embezzlement.

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10 comments
judyslove
judyslove

This is a real story of greed, betrayal and stupidity. It is good they were caught, but the system it seems may have worked in the best interest of the Witts, considering Ronnie only got one year and Anita immunity. And I am not sure if the class action suit against has gone to trial yet, but would be interested, any information that can be offered would be appreciated. I noticed the house was up for sale for I believe 1&1/2 million. Lots of money to be sure, and it should all go to the union and the workers and apprentices that were effected. The Witts are fools and should lose everything. Want to hear something crazy...they actually said they were Christian's. Ronnie even bragged that he only needed to be voted one more time into the job title he'd had for several years and he would be set for life, guess that didn't happen.

Ed Hulse
Ed Hulse

Union bosses doing what they do best!  ripping off Union workers.

ray
ray

ouch....cold busted!

MadMac
MadMac

If these charges are proven, I sincerely pray these two are punished to the fullest extent of the law and are held responsible for repaying the money stollen. Nothing can repay the trust that was betrayed. I say that as a shop stewart constantly trying to convince my fellow workers how important the union is in protecting their rights. There should've been greater internal oversight to protect these workers from their organizers.

MadMac
MadMac

Mr. Hulse, I've fought this perception across three trades and yes, there have been isolated instances of individuals vitimizing workers within unions. However, all of those crimes together do not make a fraction of the graft and corruption inflicted on labor by corporate America and government, (read Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana). Unions are the only ones that specifically works for labor. If the unions fall, labor will be back on it's knees.

Wallmdj
Wallmdj

Union bosses doing what they do best - catching and prosecuting the small number of corrupt individuals in their midst and ensuring the security of the rest of their union members. @Ed Huklse - did you happen to catch the part where this investigation came at the request of the main office of the IUOE?  Hmm, I bet that office consists of union bosses who are higher up than Witt and don't want their members ripped off. 

judyslove
judyslove

I agree, but do you think the system has worked considering Ronnie Witt is probably already out of jail. Do they still have the house and cars? What latest news is there?

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

Sad indeed. Especially if they walked off with funds for the apprentice programs. The IUOE needs to make that apprentice program whole since the IUOE didn't have sufficient controls in place. 

Georgebanks86
Georgebanks86

I'm a member of this union. The members requested the investigation initially.

judyslove
judyslove

Sorry they didn't listen in the beginning, but finally someone did something, but has any of the money stolen been recovered?

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