Sand Hogs Union Looted of $40M by Melissa King

While New York's sand hogs were risking their lives hundreds of feet below ground on projects like the city's Third Water Tunnel, the woman they trusted to take care of their union benefit funds took them straight to the cleaners -- to the tune of $40 million.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara released 12-count indictment of Melissa King this afternoon, dubbing her thefts "a personal spending spree of epic proportions." The joint probe by federal labor racketeering investigators and the IRS yielded a staggering tally of loot, even more than the amazing tale already told by the Times' Russ Buettner in earlier stories.

King's thefts over a seven year period are said to have paid for a royal lifestyle, including:

--$7 million to American Express for credit card bills.

--$5 million for "horses and horse-related expenses."

--$1 million to Lugano Diamonds in Newport Beach, California, for jewelry and watches. --$900,000 for King's Westchester home mortgage.

--$300,000 for a Porsche Cayenne, a 2008 Mercedes-Benz S Class, a 2008 Mercedes CLK, and a 2008 Range Rover.

--Hundreds of thousands to pay for three housekeepers and a tutor for King's kids.

--Nearly $100,000 for "13 hours of flight time on a private jet."

She also is alleged to have pumped some $11 million directly into bank accounts of her own firm, King Care.

All told, King is looking at 115 years in prison on the money laundering counts alone.

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