Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ex-ILWU Treasurer Ordered to Repay
Stolen $1.69 Million

By Mark Edward Nero

The former secretary-treasurer of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 502 in British Columbia has been ordered by a judge to repay $1.69 million that was stolen from the union over the course of about six years.

Former union official Robert Victor Eric Ford, who was secretary-treasurer of Local 502 from October 2003 until August 2012, was issued the order on Jan. 17, 2014 by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck.

Affleck said Ford was able to get away with the embezzlement for so long because of lax accounting practices at the union local. According to the judge, the local often gave Ford blank checks, and that Ford took advantage of the procedure by essentially writing checks to himself and using various means to cover up his misdeeds.

Union leaders became aware of Ford’s actions in August 2012, according to court documents. Ford, who has blamed the theft on gambling debts, resigned from his position with the union Aug. 20, 2012.

Union attorney Howard Mickelson said that although he was pleased with the judge’s decision, he’s not hopeful that the money will be repaid. “He probably gambled most if not all of the money away, so there’s very little left for the union to recover,” Mickelson said.

Local 502 represents about 850 members in the Metro Vancouver area.