Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Former union official will go to prison

A federal judge in Fargo sentenced a former labor union official to a year in prison Friday for embezzling union funds, bank fraud and falsifying records.

A federal judge in Fargo sentenced a former labor union official to a year in prison Friday for embezzling union funds, bank fraud and falsifying records.

William Michael Lane, 51, stole nearly $15,000 in union funds while he was vice president and acting president of Fargo's International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 2525.

The Florida native was a welder at CNH Global, Fargo's Case-New Holland tractor plant, when union members elected him vice president of the local lodge in October 1999.

Between Oct. 23, 2000, and April 25, 2001, Lane wrote checks on union accounts and falsified records to cover up his theft, court records say.

"I didn't think anything like that would ever happen," said Landis Larson, a machinist elected the union's president after Lane's departure.


"It made some people take a second look at how important elections are," said Landis, a CNH Global employee.

The local union represents about 475 members, most employed at the Fargo tractor plant.

In November 2000 other union officials discovered a discrepancy between union records and bank statements.

The next month, Lane denied any wrongdoing and threatened to stick the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun in the mouth of then union secretary-treasurer Jim Anderson, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl said.

Police later found a sawed-off shotgun in Lane's Moorhead apartment, Puhl said.

"This business with the shotgun bothers me," U.S. District Judge Rodney Webb said at Friday's hearing. "That discussion you had with a representative of the labor union is scary stuff."

Union officials closed the lodge's checking account, but it didn't entirely stop the thefts, Landis said.

Lane's bank fraud conviction stems from a check he passed at United Savings Credit Union, knowing that the union's checking account had been closed.


On April 25, 2001, Lane passed a check for $2,850 at the Fargo credit union. He received $850 cash and had the remaining $2,000 deposited in his personal account, court records say.

Checks from a new bank account also were used to siphon from the union's fund, Larson said.

Lane was arrested near Cheyenne, Wyo., on Oct. 23 and has been held in the Cass County Jail since Nov. 10.

The former union boss pleaded guilty Dec. 16 to embezzlement, bank fraud and a misdemeanor charge of falsifying union records.

He left the Fargo-Moorhead area after other union officials discovered money was missing but before he was indicted by a federal grand jury Feb. 12, 2003, according to information provided by prosecutors and Lane's attorney, Kevin Miller of Moorhead.

Lane offered little in response when Webb asked for a statement.

"I'd just like to get this done and over with," Lane said.

Along with the prison sentence, Webb ordered Lane to pay about $17,000 in restitution and to complete three years of supervision once released from prison.


Puhl said Lane has a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions for burglary and forgery.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526

What To Read Next
Get Local