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Former Head of Boeing Machinists Union Sentenced For Embezzlments

December 20, 1993

SEATTLE (AP) _ The former head of Boeing Co.’s largest union was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in federal prison for embezzling thousands of dollars in union money.

Tom Baker, 56, former president of District Lodge 751 of the Machinists union pleaded guilty Sept. 9 to two counts of embezzlement involving nearly $6,700.

Baker repeatedly apologized to relatives, friends and union members. ″To hurt the union has been like hurting a member of my own family,″ he said.

U.S. District Judge William Dwyer also sentenced Baker to one year of supervised release after he serves his prison time. Dwyer did not impose any fines, except for $100 in court costs.

Baker had faced maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

Prosecutors said Baker, who was paid approximately $105,000 a year as head of the union district, traded 25 first-class airline tickets for economy class on business trips, then falsified union travel and expense records to make it appear as if he had used the original tickets. Baker pocketed the difference, totaling $33,531, according to the prosecutors.

Under a plea agreement, Baker is to make restitution to the union, less about $11,000 he refunded after the Department of Labor began its investigation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry McCarthy said.

Baker led the 32,000-member Machinists district for 12 years. He dropped out of a re-election race last year amid allegations he mismanaged the union’s money and personnel.

After pleading guilty, Baker was suspended without pay from his job as head of the Quality Through Training Program, jointly operated by the union and Boeing to assist laid-off Boeing workers.

Under federal law, a felony conviction bars Baker from holding elective union office or from being employed by a union for as long as 13 years.

A second official of District 751, business representative Gregory S. Klepper, was indicted in October in a similar case. Klepper is accused of four counts of embezzling travel funds and four counts of filing false travel and expense reports.

The federal grand jury indictment alleges Klepper, 47, embezzled $2,989 by pocketing money he saved by buying cheaper airplane tickets than those paid for by the union. He also is accused of embezzling another $3,693 in unused travel expenses.

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