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Labor Union President Accused of 8 Year Fraud Gets a 1 Month Sentence In Federal Court

Following is a Bangor Daily News article regarding our Client, a former head of the Local Union for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.  He was accused of stealing from the union and overbilling expenses.  Shareholder Attorney Timothy Zerillo got involved before any charges were filed.  As a result of discussions with the defense, the United States Attorney's Office agreed to charge Mr. Durinski with misreporting the amount of the distributions to him for expenses on the Labor Unions Annual Reports.  From there, the Defense was able to craft an argument focusing on Mr. Durinski's lack of criminality, age, and health conditions. Ultimately, Judge Woodcock gave our Client a 1 month sentence, to be served at a county jail in Maine.  

In essence, Judge Woodcock issued a variant sentence.  This means that he gave our Client a sentence below the sentencing guidelines.  Attorney Zerillo also argued that the Bureau of Prisons was unable to adequately care for its aging prison population (based upon recent studies) and Mr. Durinski was given a county jail sentence.  This is truly a remarkable result for our Client.

Following is the Bangor Daily News article written by Judy Harrison:

Ex-DFAS union president gets 30 days in reimbursement scheme

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

Posted May 17, 2016, at 2:05 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine - An Aroostook County man, who in September pleaded guilty to making false statements on annual reports with the U.S. Department of Labor while he was employed by the Defense Finance Accounting Service in Limestone, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to 30 days in jail, followed by three years of supervised release.

Mark P. Durinski, 64, of Limestone also was ordered to pay more than $50,000 in restitution. Durinski, who served as president of the local union that represented DFAS employees when he made the false statements, already has paid $25,000 toward restitution, according to court documents.

By waiving indictment and pleading guilty last year, Durinski admitted to failing to disclose that he received more than $53,500 from the local union to reimburse him for travel and other expenditures for which he also was reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Defense or another source, according to a previously published report.

Durinski, who had no prior criminal history, was ordered to begin serving his sentence immediately, most likely at the Somerset County Jail in Madison.

"It seems to me, Mr. Durinski, that you lost your moral compass and it's hard to understand why," U.S. District Judge John Woodcock said shortly before imposing the sentence. "I do think that through this sorry experience you have regained your moral compass."

Durinski apologized for his actions and said he intended "to make everyone whole" by paying the remaining restitution as soon as he can.

Woodcock asked Durinski why he committed the crime.

"I felt that I was really owed the money because of all the hours I gave to the union that I did not get paid for," the defendant replied. "I know that was the wrong way of thinking."

Court documents do not outline how much time per year Durinski worked for the union without pay but said he traveled about 100 days per year on union business.

Durinkski's attorney, Timothy Zerillo of Portland, and Assistant U.S Attorney James Moore, who prosecuted the case, jointly recommended the sentence imposed. The recommendation was based on Durinski's age and health ailments, which include high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, kidney failure and arthritis, and his cooperation with investigators, according to court documents.

Before sentencing Durinski, the judge expressed concern about sending the defendant to the reentry center located on the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center campus.

"There are others who need the services more," Woodcock said referring to substance abuse treatment and re-entry services for men and women who have served long prison terms.

By pleading guilty last year, Durinski admitted he improperly received more reimbursement than he was entitled to for labor-related travel from 2008 to 2013, while he was employed by DFAS and was president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 294, the union that represented DFAS employees.

In filling out Department of Labor forms during those three years, Durinski stated he had received smaller amounts or no reimbursements at all as union president, when in fact he had received substantial amounts for labor-related travel around the country, according to court documents.

An investigation and audit conducted by the Department of Labor showed that Durinski "had received double payment or overpayment from Local 294 for travel and other claimed expenses during all three years," according to court documents. "Durinski had already received reimbursement from DFAS or AFGE for most of the travel and other expenses."

The Limestone man worked at DFAS from 1995 until he retired in March 2014, according to the sentencing memorandum submitted by his attorney. He served as president of the union from 1998 to 2014.

Durinski faced up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the recommended sentence was six to 12 months in federal prison.

BDN writer Jen Lynds contributed to this report.

http://bangordailynews.com/2016/05/17/news/aroostook/ex-dfas-union-president-gets-30-days-in-reimbursement-scheme/ printed on May 18, 2016

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The law firm of Hallett, Zerillo, and Whipple, P.A. are Maine attorneys representing clients who have been seriously injured, accused of crimes in state and federal court, have business litigation needs or family law and divorce cases. Various attorneys in the firm have been locally and nationally recognized for their achievements, including admission into New England Super Lawyers, the Client's Choice Award from AVVO.com, the President's Award from the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and membership in the selective National Academy of Family Lawyers. For more information on the firm, please visit www.HZWlaw.com.

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