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Union Exec to Be Sentenced

The former director of finance for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists' Health & Retirement Funds will be sentenced on Dec. 15 for embezzling approximately $1.36 million from the funds.

A press release issued last week by AFTRA's benefits plans states that former executive Robert Cataldo used "his access to the Funds' financial records, and his unique knowledge of the Funds' internal accounting controls for which he was responsible, to perpetrate and conceal his theft." The finance chief made "improper entries into the Funds' financial records to make it appear as though the monies that he embezzled were actually used for legitimate Funds' purposes."

Robert Projansky, legal counsel for the funds, told Back Stage on Monday that the sentencing will take place before Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Federal law requires that Cataldo pay back the stolen monies; he will also be fined anywhere from $7,500 to $75,000. His sentence must fall within federal guidelines, Projansky added, and will run from 37 to 46 months.

The funds' insurance firms have agreed to reimburse the full amount of the embezzlement. Projansky said the insurance companies will probably then attempt to seek repayment from Cataldo through the civil or criminal courts. He added that if Cataldo doesn't have the money to repay, then once he is released from prison his wages would be garnished at a rate of 10% of each paycheck until he has repaid the embezzled amount.

The crime came to light earlier this year when independent auditors -- during their regular review of the funds' accounts -- found evidence of the unauthorized expenditures. Cataldo was fired upon the discovery of his embezzlement.

The fund's management "immediately notified, and cooperated fully in the investigation by, the Federal Bureau of Investigation," according to the press release. That led to Cataldo's arrest "within about a week following the discovery of his crime." He pled guilty to embezzlement on Aug. 25.

"Promptly upon the discovery of Mr. Cataldo's crime, the [H&R] trustees commissioned a study by the Funds' independent auditors aimed at identifying and implementing any and all additional control procedures...and have taken all actions necessary to prevent this crime, and similar incidents, from ever happening again," the press release states.

Projansky admitted that there's no 100% assurance that a crime like this can't recur. But he noted that the monitoring procedures the funds already had in place led to the discovery of Cataldo's crime.

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