James Hedges III had personal expenses. Unfortunately, he relied on his union to pay for them. Earlier this month, Hedges, former treasurer for United Transportation Union Local 201, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado with embezzling $17,500 in funds over a four-year period from the Pueblo-based union. In addition, he was charged with filing false annual financial reports with the U.S. Department of Labor. Local 201 represents about 40 employees of BNSF Railway Company in La Junta and Trinidad, Colo., which, like Pueblo, are located in the southeast part of the state.
Hedges, a resident of Trinidad, served as local treasurer during 2003-12. Federal prosecutors allege that starting in 2008 Hedges diverted union funds for personal uses such as medical expenses, groceries and his son’s rent. The thefts continued until 2012, when fellow suspicious union members confronted him and then asked the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards to audit the union’s financial reports. The investigation led to the U.S. Justice Department filing charges. Hedges since has agreed to plead guilty to an unspecified misdemeanor.