By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — A former treasurer of a city union is going to prison, but union members still believe he had help embezzling more than $79,000.
Gregory V. Manis, 55, received a seven-year sentence Monday in Madison Circuit Court 4. One year will be served in prison, another in work release and the remaining five years will be on probation. Manis pleaded guilty to theft and 87 counts of forgery in May.
Manis is the centerpiece of an investigation by the United Utility Workers of America Local 108, a union for the city's Water Pollution Control Department. Manis served as treasurer for the union until late 2011 when he retired.
The former city employee, who claimed to have a gambling addiction, admitted to stealing regularly from the union since the Hoosier Park casino opened in 2008. Park records show Manis spent large sums of money there from 2008 to 2011.
Three union members, Jim Barber, Harrison Jackson and Andrez Allen became suspicious of Manis in 2010 and demanded an internal audit by an accountant. Local and national union leaders attempted to handle the investigation internally, and chapter president Dennis Crabtree agreed to review the books. When the large sums of missing money from dues were discovered, Manis admitted to the thievery.
At the sentencing hearing on Monday, Barber, Jackson and Allen described the damage Manis had done to the union, personally and fiscally. They talked about how they had been treated as pariahs by other union members for demanding the investigation of the former treasurer.
The three have also maintained that Manis could not have been working alone, but stopped short of accusing other union members. Manis denied anyone assisted him in embezzling the money.
"There's no way he could've done all this on his own," Jackson said.
At the hearing, Manis also admitted he was making no progress toward restitution of the stolen money, which Crabtree demanded at the time of discovery. Manis said he has had no job since 2011 and has been living with a family member.
The union trio asked Judge David Happe to give Manis prison time to motivate him to restore the lives he's affected.
"We want to light a fire to his feet. I think he needs motivation," Allen said.
Happe agreed. He said Manis didn't seem to be taking the gravity of the situation seriously enough, and time in prison might motivate him to change.
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