WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The former president of the union representing thousands of workers at Smithfield Foods has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to embezzling union assets.
Keith Alan Ludlum, 48, of Bladenboro, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay $213,201.05 in restitution Wednesday.
In January, Ludlum pleaded guilty to conspiracy and embezzlement of labor union assets, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Ludlum, who was elected president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (“UFCW”), Local Union 1208 in 2011, was initially charged in an indictment filed on April 17, 2019.
The criminal investigation into Ludlum and the union’s then-secretary/treasurer, Terry Slaughter, arose after a complaint-driven audit performed by the international arm of the union in 2014 revealed the pair had misused more than $200,000 in union funds by issuing unauthorized checks and making unauthorized purchases with their assigned debit cards.
“The audit and a subsequent criminal investigation revealed that between from January 2012 through March 2015, Ludlum embezzled approximately $136,202.29 from the union by receiving more than 20 unauthorized checks and making 420 unauthorized purchases with his union debit card,” according to a news release from the Department of Justice. “Some of the purchases included vacations, hunting supplies, firearms, ATVs, childcare, medical appointments, ATM withdrawals, personal car insurance, restaurants, and rental cars. In addition, Ludlum made at least 150 unauthorized check payments totaling $76,998.76 to family, friends and other union members. During the same period, Slaughter embezzled $62,315.38, which included checks for unauthorized salary and travel reimbursement and 161 charges to a Local 1208 debit card.”
Slaughter, who pleaded guilty to embezzlement of labor union assets in February 2019, was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $62,315.38 in restitution.