The boss told his employees to call him "Judge," since he said he used to be one in Jasper County.
Working out of Houston, he ran the Stonebridge Management Corporation, which was a trucking company.
Until their trucks started getting repossessed. And until "The Judge," who turned out to not have ever been a judge in Jasper County, went AWOL owing $40,000 to 27 drivers.
The Lufkin Daily News has the story of "Judge" John Hyden. It turns out he was a judge -- in Sabine County -- but there was good reason he didn't want the location known.
"Hyden was convicted in June 1999 for misappropriation of trust fund and fraudulent selling of securities, and sentenced to 10 years on probation," the paper reported. "The online public data site listed Hyden's offense date eight years earlier, a year before Sabine County residents elected him into office as their county judge. He served three years of the four-year term, until 1995, when he was ousted from public office for the charges, according to information from the Sabine County Judge's Office."
Hyden's been unavailable, the News reports.
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One driver, Stephen Heisler, told the paper he came off a run, delivered his truck to headquarters and watched as it was promptly repossessed.
"I just couldn't believe it. It wasn't like we were slowing down or being affected by the economic downturn," he said. "It was a cash grab, and that's what hurts the most."
Most of the affected employees live in the Lufkin area.
Where they're not thinking good thoughts about Houston these days.