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#1398593 - 04/22/13 08:11 PM Teacher Union Prez Stole $800k: report
newsman38 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 4219
Loc: Fourth Estate
Union leaders: former Auburn Teachers Association president used $800,000 in union funds for gambling, trips

Auburn, NY – The woman who led the Auburn Teachers Association for more than 35 years before dying last fall was accused Monday of misappropriating $800,000 in union dues and using the money to gamble, take trips and buy groceries, the union’s current president told members.

The money was discovered missing in November, shortly after the death of long-time union president Sally Jo Widmer, current union President Cheryl Miskell told members during an emergency union meeting Monday afternoon at Auburn High School.

A preliminary investigation has found that at least $800,000 of dues was misappropriated by Widmer between 2006 and 2012. The union money was used instead for meals, gasoline, trips, gambling, clothing, groceries and cash, Miskell said in her statement.

Since most banks only keep records for seven years, “we may never know the full extent” of the theft, the union president said. The teachers’ union contacted the Auburn police about the theft on Monday, she said....

As union president, Widmer kept tight control of the organization's finances, Miskell said. The theft was discovered as the current union leaders were in the process of canceling credit cards, reviewing bank statements and transferring cell phone accounts. Leaders immediately contacted experts at the New York State United Teachers to help unravel the union’s finances, she said.

Since the discovery of the theft, union leaders have put in checks and balances to better control its funds, Miskell said.

By Charley Hannagan | channagan@syracuse.com
on April 22, 2013 at 6:25 PM, updated April 22, 2013 at 6:33 PM

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#1399182 - 04/26/13 01:26 PM Re: Teacher Union Prez Stole $800k: report [Re: newsman38]
newsman38 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 4219
Loc: Fourth Estate
Theft of funds from Auburn Teachers Association under investigation

AUBURN, N.Y. -- For 30 years, Sally Jo Widmer ran the Auburn Teachers Association. Her control, especially of union finances, was complete. Even after new officers had been elected to lead the group and she had moved from the district to a home in the Yates County community of Middlesex, on Canandaigua Lake.

The last contact between Sally Jo Widmer and the Auburn Teachers Association came last October when she spoke with some new union leaders. They were on their way to a meeting with state union officials to learn more about budgeting and how to track expenses. A few days after that contact, Sally Jo Widmer put the finishing touches on her will. Two days later, she was dead.

Authorities in Yates County say Widmer used a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs to end her own life. It was just a day before those new union leaders, President Cheryl Miskell and Secretary-Treasurer John Ferrara, were set to begin a full audit of the union's records. The findings, later taken to local police, were stunning.

“We learned that, according to the audit, $808,000 was misappropriated from the union,” said Auburn Police Department Captain David Delfavero.

The money was taken between 2006 and 2011. More may be missing, but there are few records from previous years. Widmer had used the money to pay personal bills, to travel, even to gamble.

Auburn Teachers Association President Cheryl Miskell said, “We're very disappointed. You know, we feel betrayed.”

The union's new leaders say they've taken quick steps to restore faith in the system.

“We have double signatures on all statements. We have double signatures on all credit card statements that come in. Both of us look at them and scan them and then sign off on them. We have given the check registry, a listing of all the checks for the previous month, at every meeting to the entire executive committee. That's about 30 people,” said John Ferrara, Auburn Teachers Association Secretary-Treasurer.

And there is even optimism that some of the money taken can be restored to union coffers.

Miskell said, “We are bonded. We have a fidelity bond through NYSUT and they've out together a claim and they will present that claim to the insurance companies. We do hope that we will recoup some of our money.”

It will then be up to insurance companies to piece together evidence of years of fraud and take legal action to recover the funds that Sally Jo Widmer stole.

Some union members are infuriated by one last step taken by Sally Jo Widmer. In the will she prepared just days before taking her own life, she included a bequest of $50,000 to be paid to the Auburn Teachers Association.

04/25/2013 07:31 PM

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#1399197 - 04/26/13 04:52 PM Re: Teacher Union Prez Stole $800k: report [Re: newsman38]
Monte Cristo Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 137
Loc: Seneca County
Hopefully, there is a court order in place freezing Widmer's assets. Any good this woman may have done has now been diminished by her acts of theft. I will not mourn her passing.

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#1399507 - 04/29/13 08:22 PM Re: Teacher Union Prez Stole $800k: report [Re: newsman38]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 29523
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: newsman38
“We learned that, according to the audit, $808,000 was misappropriated from the union,” said Auburn Police Department Captain David Delfavero.


one teacher gets $800,000 many times over with their overgenerous benefits

interesting that the union gets angry when their money is misapproprited but the union is more than willing to siphon off taxpayers money for their overgenerous pay, overgenerous benefits and overgenerous pensions


remember it is all about the students teachers...

_________________________
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1401141 - 05/11/13 11:10 AM Re: Teacher Union Prez Stole $800k: report [Re: bluezone]
Blue_man Offline
Member

Registered: 08/29/00
Posts: 372
Loc: Required, FD
Sounds to me like the union looked the other way.

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#1401230 - 05/12/13 06:52 AM Re: Teacher Union Prez Stole $800k: report [Re: Blue_man]
Here's Johnny Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/14/10
Posts: 713
Loc: New York
They didn't look the other way, they were complacent and trusting of the president who had been in there a long time. Checks and balances and oversight were needed long ago. Why would the union membership simply look the other way. There is no end to the low regard that you have for teachers.

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#1401267 - 05/12/13 03:15 PM Re: Teacher Union Prez Stole $800k: report [Re: Here's Johnny]
Blue_man Offline
Member

Registered: 08/29/00
Posts: 372
Loc: Required, FD
I meant looked the other way in terms of being careless and complacent, just as you said.

You'd think that people who claim to be smart enough to teach our kids would know better, though.

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#1405585 - 06/18/13 09:51 AM Re: Teacher Union Prez Stole $800k: report [Re: Blue_man]
newsman38 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 4219
Loc: Fourth Estate
Sally Jo Widmer, former Auburn teachers union president, lost big at Turning Stone Casino

AUBURN, N.Y. -- Sally Jo Widmer didn't know when to stop.

During the last seven years of her life, the former Auburn teachers union president lost $351,365 on slot machines and table games at Turning Stone Casino, according to Auburn Police Detective Jeffery Mead.

The revelation comes as police continue to investigate allegations that Widmer misappropriated at least $808,000 from the Auburn Teachers Association.

Widmer was president of the union for more than three decades before she killed herself in November.

By Dave Tobin | dtobin@syracuse.com
on June 18, 2013 at 2:00 AM

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