After pleading guilty to embezzling $280,865 from Local S6 of the Machinists Union, the shipyard’s largest union, a former union official at Bath Iron Works was sentenced Monday in federal court to 18 months in prison and $280,865 in restitution after pleading guilty to embezzling that amount from the shipyard’s largest union.
After confessing to his crimes and offering his “deepest sympathies” to the court, Biddeford resident Ryan Jones, 35, apologized before U.S. District Court Justice George Z. Singal on Monday.
“I’ve experienced some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced in my life,” he added in part.
I’ve been deceiving everyone in my life for a very long time.
Today, I’m focusing on being a trustworthy individual.
“I’ve made a commitment to a program that has assisted me in re-establishing spiritual foundations in my life.”
Jones entered a guilty plea on September 6, 2017, to a single count of misappropriation of union funds between May 2012 and November 2016. He was sentenced to probation.
Jones’s attorney, Richard S. Berne, testified in court that Jones used the money to assist his partner in his opiate addiction by purchasing heroin.
BIW secretary-treasurer Jones has been employed by BIW since he was 19 years old. He previously served as a shop steward before being elected to his current position.
He kept that post until he was defeated for re-election in the fall of 2016, but he continued to serve in that capacity until the end of the year.
During a meeting with newly elected union officials in March 2017, he was asked about the embezzlement.
Berne described Jones as an “addict.” Jones began skimming union funds in 2012 “to maintain a lifestyle generated by their interdependence on partying, drugs, and alcohol,” according to Berne.
In a memo dated Feb. 7, Berne wrote, “It is impossible to establish how much of Ryan’s participation was fueled by the horrific things he was doing at work to disguise his crime, but his eventual spiral from alcohol and marijuana misuse to alcohol abuse and cocaine addiction in 2015 sealed his destiny.”
Jones continued to work at BIW and began attending meetings of Narcotics Anonymous in the process.
In the words of his lawyers, he had been “clean and sober” for nine months as of Friday.
Berne, on the other hand, claims that Jones was unable to assist his wife in becoming clean and instead began obtaining opiates in whatever manner he could find – eventually stealing from the union.
Read more on our website: Decriminalizing Drug Possession in Maine: The Politics and Policy Fight.
In an interview with Singal on Monday, Jones’ father stated that he has been employed by BIW for 40 years and that both of his sons have worked there for most of their adult lives.
When he learned of his son’s actions, he described his feelings as “shock, anguish, and humiliation.”
Despite the “bitterness and disappointment” of union members, Scott Jones claimed the family understood their feelings and that “a healthy Ryan would never have committed the act.”
Although Jones stole “systematically” for a significant length of time, according to Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Perry, who prosecuted the case, he also devised an extensive method to conceal his activities.
According to Perry, Ryan Jones stole from his union’s brothers and sisters about 200 times—199 times over the course of approximately four and a half years.
He made off with $280,865…
“His weekly theft totals in excess of $1,000 each week,” says the police chief.
Perry asserted that Jones prepared phony bank statements that showed the balance but did not disclose any evidence of his fraudulent behavior.
“It speaks volumes about the character of the individual,” Perry added.
“His family members are union members, and he’s basically stealing from them,” says the activist.
Ironically, if he wants to reclaim his job, he will have to rely on the very people he stole from to do so.
The judge called the case “tragic” and “extremely sad,” and expressed compassion for Jones’ parents, who “must attend a proceeding in which their daughter must stand in front of a judge as a convicted felon” in his announcement of his punishment.
“I can’t comprehend the sorrow that must be going on in your hearts, and I want to express my sympathies to you.“
He believes it is improbable that those who are not members of such a union will be able to comprehend the treachery committed by a union member while working alongside others.
He stated that he was not persuaded that his actions were only motivated by addiction.
In the absence of any external evidence, I find it difficult to believe that his level of drug addiction was so severe that it didn’t manifest itself in his work for the union, lobbying for the Legislature, meetings with [U.S.] Senator Susan Collins, and the quality of his work at Bath Iron Works, the judge said.
According to Mike Keenan, president of Local S6, he was upset that the penalty was not more severe.
There had been “certainly some leniency shown,” he admitted.
“I am quite dissatisfied with Ryan’s actions.
I had expected him to be sentenced to a longer period of time, but I respect the judge’s decision.
The people of Bath are likely to be a little upset about this.”
Jones must appear in court on March 14 to face his punishment.
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