The former New Bedford Police Union treasurer, a New Bedford police sergeant, was sentenced to prison after admitting to stealing nearly $50,000 from union funds to buy personal items such as a subscription to Match.com and New Kids on the Block tickets.
Joshua Fernandes, 41, was sentenced on Monday to three months in prison and two years of probation. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $47,851.
In October, Fernandes, who had been treasurer of a police union for nearly a decade, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
“As a police officer and union treasurer, Joshua Fernandes was sworn to uphold the law, but today he was sent to jail for breaking it. Fernandez stole tens of thousands of dollars in union funds – the hard-earned money of his fellow officers – and instead spent it on himself to pay for more than 400 personal expenses, such as beach vacations, tickets to events, children’s toys and online dating,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division. “What he did is heinous, and today’s sentencing should be a warning to others that the FBI is committed to rooting out public corruption and preserving trust in law enforcement. “
Court documents also said Fernandes abused the trust placed in him by fellow union members.
Fernandes, according to court documents, spent $48,630 on personal expenses. This included spending $1,038.40 to stay at the Legacy Vacation Club in Kissimmee, Florida; $3,030.03 in Ticketmaster fees for New Kids on the Block, Comic-con, Sarah Brightman, and Hanson events; $119.94 for Match.com; and $1,406 to the Toy Vault in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
In January, 200 New Bedford police officers were told about $674,000 in union expenses had “no supporting documentation,” according to WJAR. Many blamed Fernandes for it, but the email said the problem was more widespread.
He was able to go unnoticed for so long because he diverted tens of thousands of dollars from the LPL Financial Union account to the New Bedford Credit Union account to cover up the shortfall in the union’s operating funds caused by his embezzlement, according to Federal Court documents.
“Over several years, Mr. Fernandes stole tens of thousands of dollars in union funds and spent them recklessly on a range of personal expenses, including beach vacations, phone bills and online dating” , said US attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “To add insult to injury, he tried to cover up his theft by filling the depleted accounts with more funds stolen from the union’s retirement investment account. Public officials who abuse their positions of trust for their own personal gain will be prosecuted. No one is above the law.”
- Former New Bedford Police Sgt. Joshua Fernandes admits stealing nearly $50,000 in union funds for vacations and other personal expenses
- Former New Bedford Police Sgt. Joshua Fernandes accused of stealing $50,000 of union funds, including payment for Match.com and concert tickets