- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

The founder of a District-based labor union for special police officers and security guards is facing a criminal investigation into whether he misspent pension dues.

Federal authorities recently raided the home and office of Caleb A. Gray-Burriss, of the National Association of Special Police and Security Officers (NASPSO) amid an investigation into his handling of more than $100,000 of pension dues and health-benefit funds, according to court records.

The investigation, headed by the racketeering and fraud unit of the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General, focuses on “numerous withdrawals by Burriss that did not appear to be for the benefit of NASPSO members,” according to a search-warrant affidavit filed in federal court in the District.

Financial records also show withdrawals for dozens of hotel stays in and around the District, including twice in one day, hundreds of restaurant bills and charges at nail salons and liquor stores, according to the affidavit.

On April 20, investigators executed a search warrant for the union’s office near Union Station, on G Street in Northeast, and Mr. Burriss’ home, in Southeast.

According to court files, authorities seized union records, fliers, brochures, computer equipment, receipts, checks and bank statements.

Attempts to reach Mr. Burriss were unsuccessful. Messages left at a phone number listed under his name in the District were not returned.

The union represents 800 members and has collective-bargaining agreements with 10 employers, according to the affidavit. The union began its pension plan in 2004.

The investigation comes nine months after the Labor Department announced that it obtained a court order removing Mr. Burriss as trustee of the union pension and health plans.

In a civil complaint filed last year, the Labor Department accused Mr. Burriss and the union of having “dealt with assets of the pension plan in their own interest or for their own account.”

Mr. Burriss was the only employee of the union, according to court records.

Regulators sought to remove Mr. Burriss as trustee for the union’s pension and health plans after the Labor Department’s Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) found “numerous, ongoing withdrawals” and about $95,000 in missing dues.

Of the $95,000, there were 21 withdrawals payable to cash, 11 payable to NASPSO and five made out to Mr. Burriss, according to court records in the case.

Last summer, Mabel Capolongo, regional director of the Philadelphia EBSA office, cited “egregious and illegal behavior demonstrated by Burriss and NASPSO.” As a result, the Labor Department froze the assets of the pension and health plans.

An investigator for the Labor Department’s racketeering unit said Mr. Burriss earned an annual salary of $60,000 but, in 2005, obtained about $150,000 through checks to himself, checks made out to cash or ATM withdrawals.

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