The former president of a union representing more than 300 MBTA workers was sentenced Friday to six months in jail for stealing $105,812 from the organization’s bank account during his tenure. He was the second top official to be convicted of looting the union.
A jury found John Horan, 48, guilty Dec. 19 of two counts of larceny for overpaying himself between 2005 and 2010, using the bank account of the T’s Inspectors Union Local 600. He also ran up more than $3,000 on the union’s credit card.
Horan, of Spencer, served as union president for 10 years before retiring in 2010.
The organization’s secretary treasurer, Brian Sheehy, 43, of Quincy, pleaded guilty to similar charges last year and was sentenced to four months in jail and ordered to pay more than $130,000 in restitution to the union, which represents inspectors and chief inspectors.
Horan will also have to pay restitution, but the amount will not be determined until a hearing on Feb. 20.
“It seems to me there are some issues, Mr. Horan, about a sense of entitlement, a sense of power . . . selfishness, ego . . . I don’t know what it is,” Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine Roach said before imposing the sentence. “But it does seem to be a bit of an aberration from the rest of your life.’’
Horan, dressed in a black sweater and black pants, stood and clasped his hands as Roach issued the sentence. As court officers placed handcuffs on him, he turned toward his wife and whispered several words to her as she wiped away tears.
Ben Goldberger, assistant Suffolk district attorney, had sought a prison sentence for Horan of at least 18 months. Goldberger told the judge Friday that the defendant stole from an account that contained payroll deductions from hard-working employees.
During the trial, Horan’s attorney, Jeff Travaline, told jurors that his client was following a practice established by his predecessor of adding overtime wages to his pay.
“The prior president was receiving more than what the [union’s] constitution called for, and John, in that regard, followed in that tradition, as well as the prior practice of selling back unused vacation time,” Travaline said. “Obviously, the jury found that was not in strict compliance with the constitution that required that the president only be paid 15 percent above a chief inspector’s pay.”
The constitution also states, “The funds of this local union cannot be divided in any way among individual members and can be utilized only for valid union purposes.”
Both Horan and Sheehy had signature authority over the union’s operating account.
After Horan retired from the union and Sheehy failed in an election to replace him, the new administration noticed discrepancies with the account and confronted Sheehy, prosecutors said.
In a text message to the new president, Sheehy stated, according to prosecutors, that he “made a terrible mistake” and “breached the trust of a lot of people.”
Between December 2010 and January 2011, Sheehy repaid about $93,000 to the union before declaring bankruptcy.
Travaline said his client is in debt and does not have the ability to repay the money.Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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