Ex-Port Authority union
president Daniel Hughes
pleads guilty to stealing
union funds for hookers
A roly-poly ripoff artist with a taste for hookers and gambling pleaded guilty Wednesday to squandering nearly $300,000 in looted union funds.
Daniel Hughes, 49, left a paper trail as wide as his waistband while spending the stolen money from 2005 to last year - using a Port Authority union credit card, ATM card and checking account, prosecutors said.
The 400-pound married father of a young son cavorted with prostitutes in Manhattan, the Bronx and a notorious Queens motel offering specially themed rooms and short-stay rates.
"They were $400 to $500 [per date]," Port Authority Deputy Inspector General Michael Nestor told the Daily News about the union-subsidized trysts.
His stops included the "couples-friendly" Kew Motor Inn, where the Arabian Nights room featured a gold headboard and mirrored wall for his enjoyment, and the Southwestern room came with a mirrored ceiling.
At the Bowery Hotel, Hughes lounged on 400-thread-count Egyptian linens while enjoying marble bathrooms - and 24-hour room service. Suites rent for $650 a night at the upscale lower Manhattan hotel.
He also frequented the less glamorous Pelham Gardens Motel on East Gun Hill Road in the Bronx.
The disgraced ex-president of the Port Authority Field Association Local 111-S paid for the prostitutes using a union credit card and made withdrawals from the hotel ATMs with union banking cards, prosecutors said.
Hughes, who grew weepy and lost his composure in Brooklyn Federal Court, admitted spending the stolen $294,000 for his own unseemly entertainment.
"I didn't use it for union benefit," admitted the corrupt and corpulent Hughes, his voice cracking at one point. "I used it as salary."
Hughes helped launch the 250-member union nearly a decade ago and became its president in December 2002 - a job he held until resigning in January.
An investigation was launched last year after a union official noticed improprieties with the financial books maintained by Hughes, according to Nestor.
Gambling junkets, too
Prosecutors charged Hughes also spent union members' dues on a pair of gambling outings at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.
Hughes rang up credit card tabs at an assortment of diners and restaurants - with one dinner check totaling $600, prosecutors said.
He also made ATM withdrawals at various stops in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In court, the hulking Hughes acknowledged that he kept all the union financial books at his modest two-story home in College Point, Queens.
His house - with a small garden out front and no indication that any of the stolen money was used for upkeep - basically served as the union headquarters.