Detroit Firefighter’s Union Treasurer Pleads Guilty To Stealing Over $200k

The treasurer for the Detroit Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 344, pled guilty to stealing over $200,000 in union funds. Verdine Day, 62, entered the plea before District Judge George Caram Steeh last week. She will be sentenced on March 24, 2022, and is facing up to thirty-years in prison.

According to a press release issued by the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Day had been a Detroit firefighter since 1986. She was elected treasurer of Local 344 in 2015, and the thefts occurred between then and 2019 when she retired from the department and stepped down as treasurer.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI in conjunction with the Department of Labor. The US Attorney’s press release details how she stole the money. It is worthwhile for union officials to consider this information, so that proper precautions can be taken to prevent such a theft in their own organization.

  • Day … fraudulently obtained approximately $167,900.00 of union funds by
    • (1) issuing checks in her name and then changing the name of the payee in the Union’s Quickbooks software;
    • (2) cashing checks which were voided by her in Quickbooks;
    • (3) writing checks made payable to cash; and
    • (4) withdrawing cash from DFFA bank accounts.
  • Day also fraudulently obtained money by diverting funds intended by the DFFA to be a donation to charity.
  • Day also used DFFA credit cards as her own personal credit cards while she was Treasurer and after she retired.
  • In total, she charged approximately $49,116.17 in personal expenses using DFFA credit cards. 
  • Her purchases on DFFA credit cards included flights, hotel rooms, cruises, car insurance premiums, satellite and cable TV service, national and state parks fees, and furniture.
  • For example, Day used a DFFA union credit card to charge $9,553 for a cruise with Royal Caribbean cruise lines in 2017. 
  • Day also used a union credit card to pay for another Royal Caribbean cruise costing $8,975 on the Liberty of the Seas in 2019. 
  • She used the union’s credit card to pay her bar bill at a casino in Ohio in May 2019 and for a meal at a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico in 2019.

At the present time, I have 29 criminal cases of firefighter union theft in my database. This is the second involving a female thief (7%). Comparing that to theft from volunteer fire organizations, I have 286 criminal cases of stealing – embezzlement, 87 of which involve female thieves (30%). More on Pink Collar Crime from my friend Kelly Paxton.

Here is the press release.

Day’s arrest was part of a broader crackdown on corruption in Detroit that involved several police officers and nearly half of the city council. More on the story.

UPDATE: 12/6/2021 – As if this story could not get any worse, Kelly Paxton just forwarded me this story. I am sure if you are familiar with Detroit, this is probably old news. For the rest of us… it is all rather hard to believe:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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