Former Detroit fire union leader sentenced in fraud scheme

The sentence is half of what prosecutors sought for Verdine Day, who stole over $200,000 from members and took money that was to be given to the NAACP


Robert Snell
The Detroit News

DETROIT — A Detroit Fire Department union official who stole more than $200,000 from members and spent the money on trips around the world, hotels, flights, booze and Caribbean cruises was sentenced to one year in federal prison Tuesday.

The sentence is half of what prosecutors wanted retired Detroit Fire Fighters Association treasurer Verdine Day, 62, to serve for orchestrating a scheme from 2015-19 that also involved stealing money that was supposed to be donated to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Retired Detroit Fire Fighters Association treasurer Verdine Day, 62, pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $200,000. Day was sentenced to one year in federal prison.
Retired Detroit Fire Fighters Association treasurer Verdine Day, 62, pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $200,000. Day was sentenced to one year in federal prison. (Photo/Bill Eisner)

Day is the latest local official convicted in a more than decade-long crackdown on public corruption in Metro Detroit. Ongoing investigations and prosecutions have led to charges against more than 110 people, including former United Auto Workers Presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams.

U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh also ordered Day to pay more than $220,000 in restitution to the union based on her conviction for bank fraud.

"Day's embezzlement was particularly egregious because she stole from the first responders in our community," U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said in a statement.

Day's lawyer, William Ford, pushed for leniency, calling the years-long scheme a "mistake." He noted Day had taken responsibility and repaid $20,000.

The scandal sullied a distinguished career.

Day was the department's first African American female fire engine driver and was named Detroit Woman Firefighter of the Year in April 2019.

Day retired in 2019 and the theft was discovered the next year when the union hired an outside firm to analyze the association's finances.

The audit led to a federal investigation that concluded Day issued checks in her name and changed the purpose of the expense in an attempt to hide the fraud, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Monday. Day also allegedly wrote checks made payable to cash.

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(c)2022 The Detroit News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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