- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The conspiracy charges against a chauffeur involved in the Washington Teachers' Union scandal will lead to the indictment of other co-conspirators named in an FBI affidavit in the embezzlement case, a former federal prosecutor for the District said yesterday.
Federal prosecutors "charged [Leroy Holmes] first because he's going to plead guilty and will help them nail everybody else," said Joseph E. di Genova, former U.S. attorney for the District.
Calling the case "brazen," Mr. di Genova, now a private lawyer who is not directly involved in the teachers union case, said prosecutors have established a paper trail in the union embezzlement investigation that will make their case easy to prove in court.
"I can't imagine that anyone would plead not guilty in this case," said Mr. di Genova.
Federal authorities on Monday charged Mr. Holmes, a chauffeur for former union President Barbara A. Bullock, with helping union officials launder and spend missing funds.
Mr. Holmes, the first to face criminal charges in the misappropriation of more than $5 million in union funds, was charged with conspiracy to launder proceeds of an unlawful activity. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Channing Phillips, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard, yesterday said it will soon become clear why Mr. Holmes was charged first, declining to elaborate.
Mr. Holmes' case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth, but an arraignment date has not been scheduled, Mr. Phillips said.
According to court documents, Mr. Holmes accepted and cashed checks totaling more than $1 million from late 1997 until the fall of 2002. He also gave the cash to union officials, took the officials on spending sprees and kept some of the money for himself, the documents say. He also benefited from phony tax returns prepared for him and others, the documents say.
Charging documents against Mr. Holmes say he was hired by Miss Bullock to be her driver and office handyman "to perform business and personal services."
On 16 different occasions from 1997 to 2002, "Leroy Holmes would and did cash WTU checks and deposit the proceeds directly into the personal bank account of WTU president," the documents say.
"He also cashed several checks written out to himself and kept $1,875 [while giving] some or all of the proceeds directly to WTU Executive Assistant, WTU President, and one or more WTU employees who were compensated in cash."
Miss Bullock, her former aide Gwendolyn M. Hemphill, and former union Treasurer James O. Baxter II are at the center of the federal investigation and were named in an FBI affidavit that was used to raid their homes last month. Federal agents seized thousands of dollars worth of luxury items and financial documents from their homes.
The three have denied any wrongdoing.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams has said he has been "contaminated" by the scandal through his close ties to the union, particularly to Mrs. Hemphill. She resigned last year as his re-election campaign co-chairman after officials found thousands of forgeries among his nominating petitions.
The mayor has said his office will repay any campaign donations tainted by the union scandal, even though his campaign coffers have about $700.
"Obviously [the campaign] will have to go out raise more money to reimburse the union," said mayoral spokesman Tony Bullock.
The American Federation of Teachers, the parent union for the local, filed a federal lawsuit against the three former officials this month, accusing them of misappropriating more than $5 million.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide