Woman Admits $490K Employee Benefit Funds Embezzlement

A Tennessee woman told a federal judge in Baton Rouge, La., that she embezzled over $491,000 in benefits intended for employees of union contractors in five states.

Theresa Waters, 45, of Murfreesboro, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from the South Central Laborers Training and Apprenticeship Fund.

The SCLTAF administers employee benefit funds for contractors in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to Waters’ indictment.

Waters signed a plea agreement witnessed by her attorney, Michael A. Fiser, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan A. Stevens.

In return for her guilty plea, prosecutors agreed not to pursue additional charges against Waters.

Waters was hired by fund officials in September 2003 and served as administrative assistant over the fund’s bank and credit card accounts, according to a statement read into the court record by Stevens.

Between December 2004 and November 2008, Waters “embezzled approximately $491,706 from the fund,” Stevens told U.S. District Judge James J. Brady.

“Is what’s been told to me – substantially correct?” Brady asked Waters.

“Yes, sir,” Waters replied.

“You embezzled $491,706?” Brady probed.

“Yes, sir,” Waters said before pleading guilty.

According to her indictment, Waters used her fund-issued credit card for personal purchases, then altered monthly statements to conceal those purchases.

She then used money in SCLTAF’s bank account to pay for those personal purchases, the indictment alleges.

Waters now faces a possible five-year prison term and fines that could total more than $250,000.

Brady did not immediately schedule a sentencing hearing. The judge said he would announce that date after he receives a pre-sentencing report on Waters from federal investigators.