- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed account records from the bank used by the Washington Teachers' Union in an investigation into the embezzlement of more than $5 million from the union.
The U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia has subpoenaed from Independence Federal Savings Bank documents covering cash withdrawals by Leroy Holmes, a driver for former union President Barbara A. Bullock. Mr. Holmes has been charged with conspiracy to launder proceeds from an illegal activity.
A. Scott Bolden, legal counsel for the bank, said Independence Federal is not a subject of the investigation but is a "witness" cooperating with the U.S. attorney.
"Independence Federal is in the process of producing documents sought by the U.S. attorney," Mr. Bolden said. "Our goal is the same as everyone else involved to get to the bottom of these allegations."
Independence Federal is conducting its own internal investigation following "recent media reports" about Mr. Holmes' transactions, said bank spokeswoman Jeanne Viner-Bell.
Federal agencies are investigating Miss Bullock, her former assistant, Gwendolyn M. Hemphill, and former union Treasurer James O. Baxter II, in a probe of funds missing from the 5,000-member teachers union.
The three were named in a FBI affidavit that was used to raid their homes and those of their relatives last month. FBI agents seized thousands of dollars worth of luxury items and financial documents.
Miss Bullock, Mrs. Hemphill and Mr. Baxter deny any wrongdoing.
The parent union for the local, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), filed a lawsuit this month against the three former officials after conducting a forensic audit of the local's books last year.
Mr. Holmes, the first person to be charged in the investigation, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted.
According to the charging papers, Mr. Holmes cashed four union checks in excess of $10,000 at Independence Federal from 1997 to 2002. Each time, he deposited checks directly into the account of Miss Bullock or dispersed the funds to her, Mrs. Hemphill and other union employees.
Several times he cashed checks on which his name was inserted over the scratched-out name of a another payee.

AFT auditors criticized Independence Federal personnel in conducting the transactions, calling them "unusual."
"As long as the check is initialed correctly, it is cashed," Ms. Bell said yesterday. "Anytime a transaction is over $10,000, you always call the account owner."
Union officials said the only persons who could have authorized the transactions were Miss Bullock, Mr. Baxter and Mrs. Hemphill.

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