NORFOLK, Va. – A union official pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud on Friday, according to the Department of Justice.
48-year-old Robert Smith, III, of Virginia Beach, pleaded guilty to his charges of mail fraud in connection with a decade-long scheme to defraud the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), Local 970 of over $1 million.
Over 600 people were victims of Smith’s crime because he was trusted with the finances of Local 970.
Smith served as the Business Agent and the Financial Secretary for ILA, Local 970. The organization is a union whose members provide qualified labor to the Port of Virginia.
Smith stole money from Local 970 bank accounts from March 2006 through April 2016.
Specifically, Smith would deposit new member initiation fees and member dues from local employers into an ILA Bank account, and then use the funds for personal purposes.
Over the 10 year period Smith stole about $1,072,668.30 of union funds.
Smith withdrew over $700,000 in cash and paid his personal credit card bills, purchased gas, food, clothing, shoes, toys, entertainment, and home improvement supplies.
Smith faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. He will be sentenced on February 7, 2017.