The president of a union representing law enforcement personnel of various New York City agencies is facing wire fraud charges after being accused of defrauding the union's annuity fund, according to a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.
Kenneth Wynder, Jr., president of the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (“LEEBA”) is facing one count of wire fraud for allegedly being involved in a multi-year fraudulent "scheme to withdraw funds from the Annuity Fund and from the retirement accounts of individual members held by the Annuity Fund under false and fraudulent pretenses, including by making false and fraudulent statements to the Annuity Fund’s custodian to justify the withdrawals, and by making false and fraudulent statements to current and prospective Annuity Fund members to cause them to continue to invest and in breach of his fiduciary duties to the Annuity Fund and its members."
The Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (LEEBA) is a union that principally represents law enforcement personnel of various agencies of New York City, who are not members of the NYPD.
According to the complaint, from around 2012 to around 2019, Wynder Jr. caused the Fund Custodian to withdraw and transfer about $529,000 from the Annuity Fund to LEEBA’s main operating account, which was an account from which Wynder allegedly misappropriated money. Wynder allegedly caused each of these withdrawals by signing misleading instruction forms as the “authorized representative” of the Annuity Fund. The forms, each signed by Wynder made the false representation that the relevant withdrawals were to defray administrative expenses of the Annuity Fund.
Additionally, according to federal prosecutors, while improperly transferring large sums of money from the LEEBA annuity fund, Wynder repeatedly embezzled and misappropriated money from the union, including by withdrawing cash and writing checks to himself.
"Between 2014 and 2019, more than $450,000 in cash or cash equivalents was withdrawn from various LEEBA bank accounts, principally by WYNDER or LEEBA’s treasurer. Many of the withdrawal slips bore the signature of WYNDER or of LEEBA’s treasurer, while some of the withdrawals were used to purchase cashier’s checks payable to either WYNDER or LEEBA’s treasurer," the complaint reads in part.
Allegedly, the inappropriate withdrawal of funds were used by Wynder to pay for the majority of his $77,000 Lexus, to rent an apartment in Astoria, Queens and to finance a weekend football trip to Dallas for himself and about five other LEEBA employees and/or board members, during which time most of them attended an NCAA collegiate football game and an NFL game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.
According to the complaint, Wynder concealed his alleged misdeeds by failing to comply with various reporting requirements. The LEEBA Funds were subject to various annual requirements, including that they submit certain filings with the City, pursuant to the City Comptroller’s Directive 12, that they file annual reports to LEEBA members, that they annually obtain audited financial statements, and that they file certain annual tax forms.
"Each of these requirements was agreed to in the Fund Agreements signed by KENNETH WYNDER, Jr., the defendant, on behalf of LEEBA and the LEEBA Funds, and would have led to a proper accounting of WYNDER’s embezzlement and misuse of monies of the Annuity Fund and LEEBA. Meeting these requirements would also have led to the disclosure of the massive and increasing withdrawals WYNDER took from members’ retirement accounts held in the Annuity Fund. As detailed further below, however, under the control of WYNDER, LEEBA and the LEEBA Funds repeatedly failed to comply with these various annual filing requirements," the complaint says.
Wynder allegedly also misled the annuity fund's accountants about his withdrawals from the fund. The accountants, upon learning of Wynder's alleged prior transfers from the annuity fund, advised him, both in writing and orally, that the transfers had not been made properly, that he could only withdraw money from the fund that was related to administration of the fund, and that he needed to insure that the money improperly withdrawn was repaid. According to the complaint, Wynder repeatedly falsely stated to the accountants that he would comply with their instructions not to withdraw additional money from the fund that was not related to its administration and that he would ensure that the money owed would be repaid.
Wynder also went on to make misleading statements about the annuity fund to union members and potential union members, including saying that the money was being used appropriately and transparently.
In a separate complaint, the treasurer of LEEBA is accused of interfering with a federal investigation of financial fraud and embezzlement by officials, trustees, directors, and employees of the union.
According to that complaint, Steven Whittick, is facing one count of obstruction of a grand jury investigation and two counts of making false statements to federal agents.
The charges in this complaint result from the obstruction of a federal criminal investigation of a labor union by Whittick.
Attorney information for the accused was not immediately known.
LEEBA did not immediately respond to NBC 4's email request for comment.