American Renaissance

United Way Exec Sentenced to Prison Term

Carrie Schumaker, AP, Newsday.com, May 14

WASHINGTON — A former top executive of the United Way of the National Capital Area was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison for stealing from the charity.

Oral O. Suer, 69, pleaded guilty in March to improperly receiving nearly $500,000 from the charity and its pension fund.

“You may have accomplished a great deal with the United Way, but at the same time you were involved in theft, there’s no other way to put it,” said U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in the Arlington, Va., courtroom.

Lee also ruled that Suer must pay $497,000 restitution to the United Way pension fund. Attorneys for Suer said he had already paid about $94,000.

“This is a very sad day for me, the community and the United Way,” Suer told the court. “I feel embarrassment, shame and guilt.” Suer’s wife wept quietly as he read the statement. His son and daughter were also present.

Suer, a Turkish national, is not a U.S. citizen and could face deportation proceedings once his prison term has been satisfied.

Despite changes in leadership, the controversy over Suer’s case has hurt the capital-area United Way. After collecting $45 million in pledges in 2001, the charity is headed for a third straight year of raising less than half that amount.

Suer will serve his time at a minimum security facility in Petersburg, Va.