Union president accused of embezzlement

November 21, 2008 6:32:19 PM PST
A group of San Francisco sheriff's deputies is suing their union president, charging he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars. He says the claims are all politics, and expects to be cleared.

Five sheriff deputies are accusing their union president and other officers of embezzling more than half a million dollars from their treasury.

"We have tried for more than a year to demand accountability. We have repeatedly petitioned the DSA Board of Directors to address these issues," said Joseph Leake, a San Francisco deputy sheriff.

The DSA is the Deputy Sheriffs Association. The lawsuit's main target is the president, David Wong. Under advice from his attorney Wong wouldn't show ABC7 any financial documents or answer all of the questions, but he says those suing him are disgruntled members.

"This is purely politics, political. I believe all parties accused in the federal complaint will be cleared and their reputation will be restored," said Wong.

Those suing claim members voted to purchase a building which houses the association's offices, but they say it's being leased.

"The money that's supposed to be in the building fund, it's not accounted for," said Johna Pecot, a San Francisco deputy sheriff.

Perhaps the most serious accusation is that Wong used union money to pay the mortgage of his home. The association investigated that charge.

"The outcome of the investigation was he was to repay about $6,600 to the DSA in overpayments. We don't know if he's paid that money or not yet," said Pecot.

We asked Wong if he did.

"I paid back whatever money that the committee believed was excessive," said Wong.

The five sheriff deputies had another charge.

"Approximately $65,000 of DSA funds was used to make improper and unauthorized contributions to various political candidates," said Leake.

Wong told ABC7 the internal investigation also cleared him of that charge. Those filing the suit say they want to see all the findings of that internal investigation for themselves, but they can't.

The deputies say Wong and those who have served as treasurer since 2002 refused to let them look at the union's books and records. Aside from the lawsuit, they're asking the district attorney and the state attorney general to investigate.


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