Rose Marie Lyons was charged with felony theft for stealing more than $210,000 over a period of six-and-a-half years while president and recording secretary of the William Penn Education Support Personnel Association.
When Lyons left her position in December 2015, the union’s new officers found several suspicious financial transactions which they reported to police. After an investigation, the police found Lyons had made 448 unauthorized withdrawals totaling $210,592.91 from the union’s bank account. She would periodically replace the missing funds with gambling winnings and funds allegedly stolen from the school district and others.
In the greater scheme of things this is a minor incident, but some serious questions do arise. The Delaware County Daily Times reports that the William Penn Education Support Personnel Association (WPESPA) has only 90 members. Assuming the local itself charges no dues, the combined dues obligation for each of those members is $385.50 a year, payable to the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the National Education Association.
A review of the state and national unions’ disclosure reports show no mention of WPESPA being in arrears, although it is possible the amount may have been small enough not to be itemized.
Nevertheless, 90 support employees paying $385.50 a year for six-and-a-half years comes to a total of $225,517. Doesn’t this mean that Lyons, at one time or another, stole almost every dues dollar?
She must have been deft at replacing just enough missing funds to avoid detection, but how did she get away with it for so long?
The issue isn’t with the relatively small number of union officers and staffers stealing dues money. The question is how do members even know if their dues money is reaching the proper destination, instead of a craps table or a slot machine?