- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 18, 2003

The American Federation of Teachers has drawn up a short list of candidates from which it will select an administrator should it take the unprecedented step of forcibly taking over the scandal-plagued Washington Teachers Union, an AFT spokesman said yesterday.
"Next week our executive council will vote on the takeover," AFT spokesman Alex Wohl said.
He said the AFT has never in its 87-year history taken over a local without the local requesting the action.
If the vote for a takeover passes, the WTU could be under AFT control for as long as 18 months, Mr. Wohl said.
A national search for an administrator would begin immediately after a takeover vote, he said. The five candidates on the short list whose names were not released would be the first to be interviewed.
"We want someone who can act as a special master with knowledge of the types of problems, educational and financial, of running a union," Mr. Wohl said.
The interim president of the WTU, Esther S. Hankerson, supports an AFT takeover, according to a statement released by her office Thursday.
The AFT filed a civil RICO lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Thursday in an attempt to recoup some of the $5 million believed to have been siphoned off by the WTU's top executives.
RICO the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was passed by Congress in 1970 as a tool for federal prosecutors to use in pursuit of organized crime.
The lawsuit named eight persons, all of whom were named in an FBI affidavit last month.
Former WTU president Barbara A. Bullock; her assistant, Gwendolyn M. Hemphill, and Treasurer James O. Baxter were all named in the suit. They are being investigated for potential criminal misconduct by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies. Miss Bullock and Mrs. Hemphill resigned their posts. Mr. Baxter was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
The others named in the lawsuit were Mrs. Hemphill's daughter and son-in-law, Cherryl and Michael Martin; Miss Bullock's sister, Gwendolyn B. Clark; Miss Bullock's driver, Leroy Holmes; and Mr. Martin's business partner, Errol Alderman.
Most of their homes and businesses were searched and more than 270 luxury items ranging from designer wigs to fine art that were believed to have been purchased with stolen union funds were seized.
A forensic audit of the WTU's books indicated an eight-year run of fraud and corruption by union officials. The audit by the Bethesda-based firm of Klausner, Dubinsky & Associates showed that at least $5 million had been misappropriated.
The audit questioned $1.8 million charged by Miss Bullock to her corporate American Express card and $381,000 in checks. Mrs. Hemphill, according to the lawsuit, made several unauthorized charges to her corporate American Express card in excess of $311,000, and wrote $181,000 in unauthorized union checks. Mr. Baxter's unauthorized corporate American Express charges exceeded $267,000, according to the lawsuit, and $270,000 in unauthorized union checks.
Trips, goods and other cash payments were given to the other five co-conspirators, according to the suit.
The RICO suit is the third lawsuit filed against the three union officials since the scandal broke in September. Teacher Nathan A. Saunders filed suit against them and teachers Alfred Hubbard and Roland Ashby-Rier filed a joint suit.


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