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A central Arkansas woman was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison Friday for embezzling more than $425,000 from a union she worked for, authorities said.

Jeni Hughes, 51, of Jacksonville was the office manager for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union No. 155 for more than 15 years, according to a news release from thr office of Cody Hiland, the U.S. attorney for the state's Eastern District.

Hughes was reportedly in charge of collecting monthly dues from the organization’s roughly 900 members, depositing the funds and maintaining the union’s ledger. In March 2016, she unexpectedly resigned right before an outside audit of the group began, the release states. Authorities said the audit revealed that the union was missing $428,874.47, which prompted a Department of Labor investigation.

Between January 2005 and March 2016, Hughes regularly deposited union dues into her personal bank account, according to Hiland's office.

In a letter to the court signed by more than 100 union members, they wrote: "The money [Hughes] stole came from our members” and was supposed to be used to “train all members, provide health insurance, and a pension. The same benefits we provided for her.”

Hughes was ordered to pay back $428,874.47 in restitution. Her prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release.


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