Former New Bedford Police Union Treasurer Sentenced for Stealing Union Funds

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

BOSTON – A former New Bedford Police Department (NBPD) officer and NBPD Union Treasurer was sentenced today for stealing nearly $50,000 in union funds.

Joshua Fernandes, 41, of New Bedford, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf to three months in prison and two years of supervised release, of which the first six months will be served in home confinement with location monitoring for the first three months. The government recommended a sentence of one year in prison. Fernandes was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $47,851. In October 2021, Fernandes pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

“Mr. Fernandes took an oath to protect and serve the people of New Bedford. Instead, he violated the trust bestowed upon him by both the New Bedford community and his fellow officers,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “For several years, Mr. Fernandes stole tens of thousands of dollars in union funds and recklessly spent it on a range of personal expenses including beach vacations, phone bills and online dating. Adding insult to injury, he tried to cover up his theft by backfilling the depleted accounts with more stolen funds from the Union’s retirement investment account. Public officials who misuse their positions of trust for their own personal enrichment will be prosecuted. No one is above the law.”

“As a police officer, and union treasurer, Joshua Fernandes took an oath to uphold the law, but today he was sent to prison 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 settle more than four hundred personal charges, such as beach vacations, event tickets, children’s toys, and online dating,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “What he did is abhorrent, 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.”

Fernandes abused his position as Union Treasurer by using nearly $50,000 in union funds to pay for personal expenses including vacations, family outings, and a monthly wireless family phone plan, among other things. Fernandes carried out his scheme by reimbursing his personal credit card accounts with union funds and by using the union’s credit cards to pay directly for non-union expenses.

U.S. Attorney Rollins, FBI SAC Bonavolonta and Jonathan Russo, District Director of U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor Management Standards made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia M. Carris, Deputy Chief of Rollins’ Public Corruption & Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted the case.