Sandy Hawkes had a problem with her bills. She may have created a far bigger problem by stealing from her union to pay them. On July 5, Hawkes, secretary-treasurer for the Somers Classified Education Association, was charged in Flathead County, Montana District Court with embezzling about $9,000 in union funds. She already had resigned from her regular job as a secretary at Lakeside Elementary School a month earlier. The charge follows an investigation by the sheriff’s office of fast-growing Flathead County, located in northwest Montana just south of the Canadian border. Hawkes pleaded not guilty on August 1. Given the evidence, one has to wonder why.
This spring the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation of what school officials suspected was more than $10,000 in missing funds from the Somers Classified Education Association, also known as the Somers Classified Employee Union, an affiliate of the Montana chapters of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Following the probe, the sheriff turned over evidence to the district attorney. As secretary-treasurer of the local union, Sandy Hawkes was a logical suspect. Theft charges followed on July 5. Court documents reveal Hawkes had admitted to police that she embezzled about $5,000 to pay off household bills. Moreover, she had confessed to a co-worker on May 25 to the thefts. Somers/Lakeside School District Superintendent Paul Jenkins believes the true figure won’t be known for a while. “We don’t have a full figure yet, but it’s in the thousands of dollars,” said Jenkins.