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Irvington Woman Gets 6 Years for Embezzling $42M

IRVINGTON, N.Y. – An Irvington woman has been sentenced to six years in prison for embezzling $42 million from a construction union and filing false income tax returns.

Melissa G. King, 61, pleaded guilty in October 2011 in Manhattan federal court. Officials say King spent millions on herself using money from employee benefit plans she administered for Local 147 of the Sandhogs Union. They also say King falsified her income tax returns to hid the millions that she embezzled.

King was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. She has been ordered to give up millions of dollars of assets, including her $2 million Irvington home.

“We hope that today’s sentence of Melissa King brings some measure of closure to the hard-working men and women whose money and retirement security she stole,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. “It also brings us one step closer to providing as much restitution as possible to her victims.”

King was given $540,000 annually to manage the union's funds through King Care LLC, the company she controls, including filing reports with regulators, determining eligibility, collecting employee contributions and maintaining a general ledger of the fund.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says between 2002 and 2008 King transferred $42 million from the union's funds to an account controlled by King Care. Money was taken out of that account through wire transfers, checks and other ways to pay for King's personal transactions.

The Sandhogs Union represents about 1,000 construction workers in the New York City area. Officials say union members lost between $55,000 and $80,000 in retirement savings and other benefits.

Officials say at least $7 million was paid to American Express; at least $3 million to entities that sell, maintain and transport horses; at least $1 million to jewelry companies; at least half a million to E-Trade Securities; at least $300,000 to Neiman Marcus; at least $15,000 to the Ritz Carlton Palm Beach; at lease $99,000 for private jet transportation; at least $900,000 for her home's mortgage; and at least $300,000 for luxury automobiles.

Officials also say King transferred $10 million to other bank accounts held by King Care and at least $600,000 to the “Trust Agreement between Jerome and Mabel King.”

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