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Press Release

VA Hospital Union Official Sentenced to Prison for Stealing from Union

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced the former president of the federal employees union at Birmingham's Veterans Affairs Hospital to six months in prison, plus six months home detention for embezzling more than $92,000 from the local chapter. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Monty Stokes, and U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards, Investigator Hollis Lindley Jr. announced the sentence.

STEPHANIE HICKS, 44, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty in June to bank fraud and forgery. U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre ordered Hicks to pay $92,000 in restitution to the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2207, AFL-CIO, as part of her sentence. Hicks must report to prison Jan. 12.

Hicks was elected president of Local 2207 at the Birmingham VA Hospital in July 2007 and served until July 2013 when members elected a new president. The local collects dues biweekly from its more than 440 members. During Hicks' tenure, the local maintained the money in two bank accounts -- a general operating account and a legal fund account, first at Wachovia Bank and, following a merger, at Wells Fargo Bank, according to the indictment and Hick’s plea agreement with the government.

From at least Jan. 1, 2008 until July 26, 2013, Hicks schemed to defraud the banks, using her position as Local 2207 president to conduct unauthorized transactions taking money from the union's accounts to use for her personal benefit, according to the court records. Those transactions included writing checks to herself for travel that did not take place, forging the name of other Local 2207 officers and members on checks she wrote to herself, and making unauthorized debit card purchases and cash withdrawals, according to the records.

To conceal her fraud, Hicks did not maintain records of the financial transactions, as required by federal law and Local 2207's constitution and bylaws, nor did she seek approval for the expenditures.

 Veterans Affairs, OIG, and the Department of Labor, OLMS and OIG, investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Xavier O. Carter prosecuted.

Updated November 18, 2015