- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2002

The former president of Local 1812 of the American Federation of Government Employees is scheduled to be sentenced April 4 for felony misappropriation of union funds.
Hope Butler, who headed the union local until June 2000, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to making false statements to government officials.
She and her sister-in-law, Nadine Crump, were accused of embezzling union funds and then lying about it in reports to the U.S. Department of Labor. Mrs. Crump has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of fraud.
Local 1812 represents about 1,150 employees for Voice of America, Worldnet television, Radio Marti and other International Broadcasting Bureau positions.
Charges against Butler and Mrs. Crump resulted from an internal audit and a request for an investigation by other union leaders.
In a letter to The Washington Times, a high-ranking Local 1812 official said the case against Butler was merely the tip of the iceberg. The official, who asked that his name be withheld fearing reprisal, was one of the union leaders who had Butler's union accounts audited.
"Moreover, we believe that she was involved in a much larger conspiracy to commit fraud, involving key members of our union's district and national leadership," the Local 1812 official said. "We also believe that Hope Butler was aided and abetted in her illegal activities by members of the International Broadcasting Bureau's Office of Labor Relations and Office of Personnel, and that agency management interfered in the internal affairs of AFGE Local 1812."
The International Broadcasting Bureau is an independent government agency that formerly operated as the broadcast portion of the U.S. Information Agency, which merged into the State Department in October 1999.
Federal prosecutors say they plan to pursue charges against other union members or International Broadcasting Bureau employees only if more evidence develops.
"I'm not at liberty to discuss any other pending investigations," said Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District. "If new leads develop, we'll certainly pursue them."
International Broadcasting Bureau officials deny any of the wrongdoing claimed by union leaders.
"Those charges have no merit," said Letitia King, International Broadcasting Bureau spokeswoman. "The agency management has fully and completely cooperated with the U.S. Attorney's Office in this matter. We don't believe it's appropriate to comment further on an ongoing criminal matter."
Butler is accused of inducing union finance officers to sign blank checks, which she said would be used to pay Local 1812 expenses, at least 18 times in little more than a year. She then made out the checks to nonexistent expenses or to her sister-in-law, who used the business name "Crump & Associates" or "Nadine Crump" but performed no services for the union, according to prosecutors.
In fact, the money was deposited in either Butler's personal account or an account belonging to Mrs. Crump, according to court documents.
Butler was accused of repeating the list of fraudulent invoices in the union's annual report to the Labor Department, which is a felony offense.


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