Crime & Courts

Juneau man sentenced for labor union embezzlement

The former financial secretary of Juneau Carpenters Union Local 2247, Jonathan H. Smith, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Juneau to four months at a halfway house for embezzling $41,770 in union assets, some of which he used for gambling.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess also imposed five years of probation and 250 hours of community service. Smith also was ordered to pay full restitution.

"He has to be out of his house and confined for several months," said Kevin Feldis, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. Attorney's office in Alaska. "It's a step short of prison."

Local 2247 elected Smith as its financial secretary in 2006. He was responsible for deposits, paying bills, co-signing checks and day-to-day business of the 150-member union.

The position was unpaid. Smith was also working as business agent for the Alaska Regional Council of Carpenters, which paid an annual salary of up to $93,000, according to a plea agreement filed in August.

For nearly five years, from April 2007 to May 2012, Smith used a debit card tied to the union's checking account to pay for personal expenses like travel, eating out and "drinking at bars," according to the agreement. He also used some of the money at casinos in Las Vegas and Washington state.

Smith agreed to plead guilty to the federal charge in August. Prosecutors said he faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of probation.

The plea agreement indicates the parties agreed to recommend a sentence of probation and 80 hours of community work service.

Feldis, who wrote the sentencing affidavit for the case, said he emphasized to Smith that he violated a position of trust.

"And he clearly used the money for his own personal gain to feed alcohol and gambling," he said. "There was nothing sympathetic in the reasons he stole the money."

A communications director with the union could not be reached for comment.

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.