CPD investigating report of embezzlement from COTA drivers union

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus police are investigating the apparent embezzlement of funds from the union for COTA bus drivers.

The Transportation Workers Union of America has placed Local 208 in receivership “after discovery of apparent malfeasance by the Local 208 Secretary-Treasurer, who has resigned,” according to the union website.

A complaint filed with Columbus police says the suspect embezzled money using the union’s checks and bank card.

Sgt. James Fuqua said the investigation is in the very early stages. “At this time we are looking at one particular person but that does not mean that, as the investigation continues to unfold, that there may be additional people that are involved in this incident.”

The alleged embezzlement is alleged to have occurred over a period of more than five years. The police report indicates that $300,000 was taken but Sgt. Fuqua said it’s too early to say how much money may be involved.

According to the website message to members, Theotis James, a former president of the local, has been appointed administrator by the Transportation Workers Union International.  

The Transportation Workers Union of America issued the following statement Friday:

The Transport Workers Union of America alerted police earlier this month regarding the apparent embezzlement of union funds by TWU Local 208’s former Secretary-Treasurer. 

“There is no place in the TWU for officials who abuse their power and the trust of the membership,” TWU International President John Samuelsen said. “We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and for the lack of proper oversight and enforcement at the local union level. We are absolutely shocked, angered and disgusted by these charges of deception and criminality. The hardworking men and women who move Columbus, and are members of TWU Local 208, put their trust in this individual. She allegedly betrayed that trust and disgraced the entire labor movement. If the charges prove to be true, they should throw the book at her.”

The TWU International has placed Local 208 in receivership and a member of the International staff has been appointed Local 208 administrator during this period. Additionally, we hired a certified fraud examiner when the allegations came to light and he continues to evaluate the financial records. TWU is assisting law enforcement with their ongoing investigation. 

The Secretary-Treasurer resigned after being confronted about missing funds.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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