PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A federal judge came down hard on a former union boss accused of stealing millions from his membership.
Ray Ventrone had nothing to say as he entered federal court for sentencing for embezzling and stealing more than $2 million dollars in funds and property from Boilermakers Local 154 – the union he ran for the 19 years.
But in court he wept though his apologies for buying and hoarding incredible volumes of luxury items — just a portion of which were displayed last year in a warehouse. Nine truckloads — including luxury furniture, treadmills and nautilus machines, and tens of thousands of dollars in musical equipment — were recovered by the union and auctioned off in May.
While his defense argued that many of those items were bought as gifts for the membership, it did not dispute that Ventrone bought most for himself, including no less than seven Cadillacs at union expense.
“This kind of thing doesn’t happen normally. How often do you hear of this kind of things like this happening? It’s extremely rare,” said Ernie Orsetti, union attorney.
Character witnesses — including his son, former Steeler Ross Ventrone — noted all the good things he had done for his membership, including instituting a drug and alcohol program that was adopted by the national union.
The defense said Ventrone suffered from depression, severe anxiety and an obsessive compulsive disorder that made him make the outrageous purchases.
U.S. Judge Mark Hornak said this could not absolve Ventrone of the damage he had done, sentencing him to 41 months in federal prison and ordering him to pay more than $3 million in restitution to the union, insurance companies and the IRS.