A federal judge has sentenced a former New Jersey union official to 2 1/2 years in prison for embezzling more than $500,000 dollars from his union.

James J. Kearney Jr., of Bayonne previously pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement.

Prosecutors say the 44-year-old Kearney served as secretary treasurer of the Jersey City-based Local 45 of the International Association Of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers for three years.

From January 2009 through September 2010, prosecutors say Kearney withdrew approximately $471,000 in cash directly from the local's bank account for personal use, and failed to deposit more than $90,000 in receipts from membership dues and other fees.

U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson sentenced him Thursday in Trenton federal court.

Kearney has also been ordered to pay $561,000 in restitution.

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