The former executive assistant at a union that represents many workers at Port Everglades, pleaded guilty to stealing members' money for her personal use Thursday just days before she was scheduled to go to trial alongside the union's former president.
Tianni Latrice Brown, 32, of Lauderhill, admitted conspiring to steal union assets, endeavoring to obstruct justice and lying to investigators.
Brown worked for Darryl Brice Payne, who was also known as "Mike D," and was the president of the International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO, Local 1526. Both held their positions at the Fort Lauderdale office of the union between early 2008 and early 2011.
Brown faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and fines of up to $750,000, according to her plea agreement. Her sentencing is May 8.
Payne, 48, of Sunrise, was indicted last year and has pleaded not guilty to 16 federal charges, including one count of conspiracy to steal union assets, 10 counts of stealing union assets, one count of endeavoring to obstruct justice, three counts of mail fraud and one count of making false statements. The charges carry penalties of between five and 20 years in prison, as well as substantial fines.
Payne's trial is scheduled for next week in Miami.His attorney, Bruce Zimet, filed court records on Thursday seeking a delay, but U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. has not yet ruled.
Payne and Brown were charged with using altered documents to deceive union officials and obtain union funds to pay for personal expenses and to treat others, according to a 55-page indictment filed in August.
Federal prosecutors said the two conspired to falsify travel and other records to cover unauthorized travel, hotel rooms and services for themselves and others they chose to treat.
The unauthorized expenses charged to the union included trips that Payne, Brown and others took to Jacksonville, Mobile, Ala.; Baltimore; St. Louis, Las Vegas, Nev.; and Cincinnati, according to prosecutors.
Payne and Brown were also charged with using false documents to try to obstruct a grand jury investigation. And Payne is also accused of filing false documents to try to inflate his pension, according to the indictment.
The union represents workers who are primarily employed loading and unloading cargo and providing other services for the shipping and cruise industries at Port Everglades and elsewhere, according to court records.
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