Former union president sentenced for embezzling funds

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published March 20, 2019

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SOUTHFIELD — The former president of a local union was recently sentenced for embezzling over $300,000 in union funds.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced the sentencing March 7, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office’s Eastern District of Michigan.

Southfield resident Mervin E. Hawk, 59, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain, who ordered Hawk to serve a prison term of 30 months.

Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy Slater, of the Detroit Office of the FBI, and by Irene Lindow, acting special agent in charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
According to the release, Hawk pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2018, to one count of embezzlement of union funds.

Court records indicate that Hawk was the president of Local 1640 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Detroit from approximately 2013 to 2015.

As president, Schneider said in the release, Hawk had authority over the union’s primary bank account, and he embezzled over $100,000 from the account.

Officials said Hawk diverted the “great bulk” of the union’s funds into his personal bank account for his personal use.

Hawk also, without authorization from the union’s executive board, opened two additional bank accounts in the name of the union. Over the course of the scheme, Hawk deposited around $200,000 in union dues into the unauthorized accounts and used the money for his personal enjoyment, including expenditures at Detroit casinos.

“Union leaders hold positions of trust, and union members deserve honest representation,” Schneider said in the release. “When leaders use their positions to line their pockets rather than represent their members, they should expect to face justice.”

Hawk’s public defender, attorney Natasha D. Webster, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Hawk will have to pay restitution in the amount of $362,623, and once released, he will serve a three-year term of supervised release.