The first husband of a tunnel worker's union administrator who embezzled millions of dollars from the union and used it to finance her extravagant lifestyle says he was surprised by his ex's crimes because she used to be down-to-earth. Melissa G. King, who was charged in 2009 for siphoning $42 million from the Sandhog union's benefits plan, was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty.

King allegedly used the funds to purchase things like luxury cars, jewelry and horses, while the sandhog union members entitled to those funds were cheated out of $55,000 to $80,000 each in pensions, life savings and other benefits. "I'll be 71 in less than three weeks and I'm working on the Second Avenue subway," John C. Donohue, a tunnel worker who was unable to retire after his savings were depleted by the fraud, told the court. "Grandpa doesn't want to be working on the Second Avenue subway, but I need to work." Meanwhile, King reportedly spent over $30,000 on dog grooming services and $99,000 on private jets, and hired a massive household staff to run her mansion in Irvington, NY.

But while the 60-year-old King has been painted as a greedy money grubber, ex-husband Barry Topper says she was "a very sweet girl" during their brief marriage decades ago. "She and her parents were very down-to-earth people," Topper told the Daily News. "I was in shock when I heard the news. I thought this can't be the same Melissa King." Topper was the first of King's four husbands; they got married in 1971 in Florida and divorced two years later, whereupon King moved to New York, wed three more men, and started charging millions of Sandhog dollars to her American Express.