The former president of a major federal government employees' union local chapter at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter pleaded guilty Friday to theft of union funds involving his handling of travel expenses.
John Sammons, 61, who worked at Shaw AFB and was president of Local 1872 of the American Federation of Government Employees from approximately 2000 through 2016, pleaded guilty to theft involving double-dipping for travel-related expenses before U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs in a hearing at the federal courthouse in Columbia.
Sammons was originally charged with stealing nearly $15,000 in union funds, but in return for his guilty plea, the government dropped most charges and only charged him with the theft of property "valued in excess of $1,000," according to court records.
Sammons "abused his position to enrich himself at the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)'s" expense, an indictment in the case said.
Sammons will be sentenced at a later date. He is subject to a prison term of up to five years and a maximum $250,000 fine.
Sammons' union, one of the largest federal employee labor organizations in the nation, has over 300,000 dues-paying members and represents nearly 700,000 members. Sammons' local chapter had between 150-200 members, his indictment said.
As part of his duties, Sammons traveled across the country to participate in various union conferences and events. He also served on a union national committee known as the Defense Conference, or DEFCON, which also required frequent national travel, the indictment said.
To pay for his travel expenses to AFGE and DEFCON national events, Sammons used Local 1872 funds "by way of the chapter's debit card, checks and cash," the indictment said.
When Sammons returned home, he submitted his travel expense receipts for reimbursement to the national union organization and requested that the union make out its reimbursement checks to him personally and mail them to his home address, the indictment said.
When Sammons got the reimbursement checks from the national union, he deposited them in his personal checking account at Shaw's credit union and "never reimbursed Local 1872 with the money he received from the national union," the indictment said.
The six-count indictment charged Sammons with stealing a minimum of $14,897.
In return for his guilty plea, the government allowed Sammons to plead guilty to one one count of a six-count indictment. That count said he stole property "valued in excess of $1,000."
Sammons' attorney, Jonathan Harvey, could not be reached. Brook Andrews was the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case.