Stephanie Hicks wrote lots of checks from her union accounts. The problem is that they didn’t always go to cover union expenses. Hicks, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2207, was arrested and charged on March 11 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District Of Alabama with embezzling more than $132,000 in funds from the union, which represents VA hospital employees in Birmingham. She had been indicted by a grand jury in February for bank fraud, forgery and aggravated identity theft. The charges follow a joint probe by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Hicks, 43, a resident of Birmingham, served as president of AFGE Local 2207 during July 2007-July 2013. But she likely did more than simply run her union. Prosecutors are alleging that she made a series of unauthorized transactions from the union’s two bank accounts for her own benefit. According to the 19-count indictment, she wrote checks for nonexistent business trips, forged the names of other union officers and members, and made unauthorized debit card purchases and cash withdrawals. What’s more, she concealed the thefts by not recording these transactions in union financial records. “Union members elect officials to represent them and protect their interests,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. “A labor union official who chooses, instead, to live the high life by stealing from local members has committed a crime and should prepare to go to prison.”