The former general manager of San Bernardino County’s largest labor union is countersuing the organization he once headed, which has accused him of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars, court records show.
Robert Blough allegedly misappropriated, converted or embezzled more than $700,000 in funds from executives and members between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013, according to a civil lawsuit filed in October by the San Bernardino County Public Employees Association.
Representing over 11,000 county workers, the SBPEA said that Blough stole $595,444.82 in cash and misspent another $108,345.12 while general manager of the labor organization.
Last month, Blough denied the allegations, evoking the “unclean hands” defense in his response. The defense suggests that a plaintiff is not entitled to relief since they have committed a wrongdoing or are themselves liable for an offense.
Among a dozen counter-claims, Blough also said that the SBPEA failed to state sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action against him and breached their contract with him when he was fired in August 2013.
He is seeking $520,000 in general damages, costs of litigation, and punitive and exemplary damages “against the Plaintiff for its fraudulent acts,” court records show.
Blough was placed on administrative leave without pay on June 21, 2013, after the union’s newly-hired auditing firm “discovered that there was a large disparity in the amount of SBPEA’s recorded cash receipts and the amount of deposits made to SBPEA’s bank account at Security Bank of California,” according to the civil suit.
Blough had access to the union’s safe and was responsible for holding cash and depositing cash at the bank, the suit said.
The audit also found that union credit cards, including those held in Blough’s name, had numerous charges that “appeared to be personal in nature.”
The suit’s filing came days after the union announced that it had requested the District Attorney’s office investigate the missing funds. No criminal charges had been filed against Blough as of Wednesday, court records showed.
Blough became general manager of the labor organization on Dec. 26, 2005. His assistant, Jeannie Marquez, was also fired at the same time in 2013, but she is not named as a defendant in the suit.
The union is also alleging that “Blough falsified and altered records to conceal his misappropriation, conversion, and embezzlement of funds from SBPEA’s Executive Committee and members,” according to the suit....
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