The former president of a union representing officers of the federal agency tasked with screening airport travelers has pleaded guilty to defrauding her union.
Marie LeClair, 59, of Lynn — formerly the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Transportation Security Administration, Local 2617, based in Boston — pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Boston to one count of wire fraud.
“She betrayed the trust of the membership and of the union. I’m happy to see that justice was served,” Michael Gayzagian, the current president of Local 2617, told the Herald. “It’s unfortunate the organization had to go through what we had to go through, but at the end of the day I hope it’s a lesson to folks who think they can get away with that type of activity. Just don’t steal.”
The feds busted LeClair on wiring $3,000 from union coffers to a travel debit card in her own name to be used as she personally saw fit on or around May 22, 2018, but court records show that the scheme to defraud began as early as March 2015, soon after she took the reigns of the local on Feb. 28, 2015.
Gayzagian said that the union itself was the first to investigate LeClair. The union is heavily regulated and has to comply with regular audits of its books, but LeClair refused to open the books.
“The board had been requesting audits and the audits had not been done,” Gayzagian summarized.
Gayzagian, as then-executive vice president, reported her to the national board, which began an investigation.
On Dec. 28, 2018, the union’s national president, J. David Cox Sr., suspended LeClair of her position in the union and informed her that the union had alerted the federal government of what they had found, according to a letter obtained by the Herald. She was federally charged on April 26, 2022.
The letter alleged that LeClair was making “unapproved cash withdrawals and purchases on a nearly daily basis” on a union credit card, and even paid her personal phone bills with union money.
LeClair faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, according to a May 31 plea agreement filed with the court. The agreement also agrees to home confinement from three months to a year. District Court Judge Indira Talwani has scheduled sentencing for Aug. 16.
“The union did its job,” Gayzagian told the Herald. “The process worked.”