Embezzlement at union results in guilty plea

June 08, 1996|By S. Mitra Kalita | S. Mitra Kalita,SUN STAFF

The owner of a now-defunct printing company pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of conspiring with the former comptroller of a Baltimore-based maritime union in an embezzlement scheme that cost the union more than $376,000.

Mercury Graphics Inc. owner Ronald Schoop, 60, could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and be fined $250,000 for conspiring with Harry Seidman, 64, former comptroller of the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, to misappropriate the union money.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia said that Schoop of Columbia used his company to submit fraudulent invoices to the union for "typesetting." Although the invoices did not reflect any such service performed, Seidman approved the payments and issued checks to Schoop, Battaglia said.

Schoop then cashed the checks and provided almost all of the cash -- $376,963 -- to Seidman, Battaglia said.

The union has cooperated in the Department of Labor's yearlong investigation of the pair's activities from 1978 to 1993, said Ernest Cohen, internation counsel for the union.

According to Cohen, the union, which represents 7,000 licensed officers and seamen, cannot account for more than $800,000 in missing funds. Battaglia said prosecutors could only prove that the men had taken the $376,000, but investigators suspect more was taken in the scheme.

A sentencing date for Schoop has not been set.

Pub Date: 6/08/96

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