LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas woman is behind bars for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars for over a decade from a Jacksonville union. 

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller sentenced Jeni May Hughes, 51, of Jacksonville, to 30 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $425,000 from Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union No. 155 (Local 155).

In addition to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, Judge Miller ordered Hughes to pay $428,874.47 in restitution.

Hughes served as the office manager for Local 155 for more than 15 years. Her official duties included collecting monthly dues from the organization’s roughly 900 members, depositing the funds, and maintaining Local 155’s ledger.

The official report states that on the eve of an outside audit in March 2016, Hughes abruptly resigned. In the weeks that followed, auditors gradually uncovered a $428,874.47 shortfall in union receipts. This prompted a formal Department of Labor investigation. It revealed that from January 2005 until her departure in March 2016 Hughes routinely failed to deposit Local 155’s cash dues, instead diverting the funds into her own personal account.

“We are a Local Union made up of hard working men and women who are not looking for a hand out,” said Local 155 in a letter to the Court signed by more than 100 of its members. 

“The money [Hughes] stole came from our members” and was to be used to train all members, provide health insurance, and a pension. The same benefits we provided for her.”

The Office of Labor Management Standards makes available labor union reports, compliance tips and other publications on its website,