A former union trustee pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from her labor union over a four-year period in federal court Monday, prosecutors said.
Ava Ramey, 61, of Bowie, stole more than $379,000 from the United Government Security Officers of America Local 21 between 2005 and 2009, prosecutors said. Her arrest stemmed from an investigation by the federal government's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, a multijurisdictional partnership that probes financial crimes like embezzlement.
Ramey served as an assistant trustee and a trustee to the union, she said in her guilty plea, adding that she was accountable for all of the union's funds during her time in the positions. Beginning in December 2005, she began embezzling funds from the union's account at a Chevy Chase Bank branch in Bowie.
Ramey used the union's debit card to withdraw hundreds of dollars in cash from ATMs at casinos and racetracks in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Florida, she admitted in court documents. She paid her daughter-in-law's electric bill, made deposits into the commissary account of a prisoner in Indiana and spent more than $500 at a hotel in Warsaw, Va., she said.
Ramey was required to show supporting documentation to justify purchases made with union funds. On two separate occasions, she admitted, she told union officials that she was reimbursing herself for cellphone bills for May, June and July 2005.
Prosecutors say Ramey wrote more than $80,000 in checks to herself or to "cash" from the union account and wrote another $60,000 worth of checks to family members. She also bought more than $70,000 worth of merchandise with the debit card and took out more than $60,000 at ATMs, prosecutors said, and she withdrew or transferred into her personal account more than $100,000 in union funds.
Ramey faces up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release, plus fines of $250,000. She will be sentenced on Oct. 12.