Union embezzler of $1.4 million gets 27 months

March 03, 1995|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

A federal judge sentenced a woman to 27 months in prison yesterday for conspiring to embezzle $1.4 million from the Baltimore-area Ironworkers union, but it was little consolation for ironworkers who said the woman's thievery dearly cost them.

"I have not been to a dentist in two years because we lost our

dental and optical benefits as a result of this theft," said Gary L. Quesenberry, one of about a dozen ironworkers who went to U.S. District Court in Baltimore to hear the sentencing of Kristen Kupfer-Lovin, 29.

Also at the courthouse was James Shiflett, the business manager for Iron Workers Local No. 16, from which the money was stolen.

"The sentence was within the federal guidelines, but I don't think it was enough considering the money that was taken," remarked Shiflett, who said the union's health fund nearly collapsed because of the embezzlement. "A lot of people would take a few years in jail for a million dollars."

Judge Marvin J. Garbis also ordered that Kupfer-Lovin pay $14,400 in restitution to the ironworkers. Investigators are still trying to find at least $200,000 that was stolen.

Kupfer-Lovin, of the North Point area, worked in the benefits office for the union. Over 4 1/2 years, Kupfer-Lovin and another employee, Sandra M. Edwards, 39, wrote about 265 checks to themselves. Edwards pleaded guilty last month and is to be sentenced April 26.

A financial statement submitted as part of Kupfer-Lovin's plea agreement says that her purchases in recent years included a 1993 Ford Explorer, five dirt bikes and a boat. It also lists nearly $20,000 in credit card debts. Kupfer-Lovin, who estimated her assets to be worth about $40,000, claimed to have lent money to 23 people from 1989 to 1993.

Michael Spodak, a psychiatrist who evaluated Kupfer-Lovin last year, testified yesterday that he believed she stole huge amounts of money in order to compensate for deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy.

Kupfer-Lovin told Judge Garbis that she was very sorry and ashamed. He sentenced her to the maximum available under federal sentencing guidelines.

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