Ron Salerno, a Miramar, Florida treasurer for a public employee union, was arrested Monday after he was accused of defrauding the union’s members out of more than $180,000, news sources indicate. Salerno, 43, turned himself over to police and was booked into the Broward County Jail on charges of grand theft over $100,000 and swindling to obtain property of $50,000 or more. His bail bond was set at $50,000. It is not yet known whether he has hired a lawyer.
Reports say Salerno worked as a treasurer for a community employee union in the city of Miramar prior to his arrest. His tasks there involved managing the union member’s monetary assets. Reports say the union has over 200 members, all of whom pay $30 a week for union subscriptions. Following Salerno’s arrest, a spokesperson from the union issued a statement saying, “We, the leadership of the organization, are disappointed and appalled by the actions that have taken place. There is no doubt in our minds that we will restore the confidence and amplify the pride of serving our members and the citizens of the city.”
Starting in June 2010 and ending in June 2012, reports say Salerno withdrew funds from the union’s account totaling $118,781. Investigators reportedly inspected withdrawal documents from the General Association of Miramar Employees, which reportedly documented over 180 withdrawals for a total of $118,781. However, reports did not indicate whether all of those transactions were fraudulent.
According to investigators, Salerno made the majority of the withdrawals at ATM machines and at casinos, and most were for large sums of money, reports say. Investigators also say that Salerno wrote fraudulent checks to himself using the union’s checkbook between January 2010 and June 2012. In all, detectives say Salerno cashed $68,773 in checks. According to reports, the largest of those alleged checks was for $15,000.
An investigation into Salerno’s purported swindle began in August when members of the union’s board of directors became suspicious about Salerno’s reluctance to release financial records. Sometime later, the union members pressed him for the records and he reportedly admitted to using some of the funds for his own purposes. Reports did not specify how the money was allegedly used.
The union placed Salerno on administrative leave and reported the alleged fraud to the police, reports say. Salerno also reportedly signed a document agreeing that he would repay the stolen money, and has already returned a purported $4,500 to the union. However, it does not appear that Salerno has the funds needed to repay the more than $187,000 he allegedly took from the group, reports say. It is not clear whether investigators believe any of the funds are still in Salerno’s possession.
Upon hearing about the situation from the union, police began investigating the allegations. The investigation led to officers issuing a warrant for Salerno’s arrest on charges of grand theft and fraud in November. Reports say Salerno turned himself over to police on Monday. A union spokesperson told reporters that he was unable to say what Salerno’s motive was for stealing the group’s money. “We’re just praying for Ron and for the union,” the spokesperson said.