- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Federal law enforcement authorities have seized numerous luxury items antique armoires, various Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, mink fur coats in investigating suspected embezzlement of more than $2 million from the Washington Teachers Union by former officers and their family members.
FBI officials recently made available the complete list of personal and business-related items seized Dec. 19 in home searches of suspended union treasurer James O. Baxter II, Michael Martin and Gwendolyn B. Clark.
Mr. Martin is the son-in-law of Gwendolyn M. Hemphill, former union executive assistant to the president and Miss Clark is the sister of former union president Barbara A. Bullock. All five persons are the focus of the joint investigation by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Labor Department and the D.C. inspector general.
A list of 379 pieces of evidence seized in searches of the homes of Miss Bullock and Mrs. Hemphill and the office of Mr. Martin on Dec. 18 was released by the FBI.
"All of the items seized we believe have some evidentiary value in this case," said an FBI official. Neither the U.S. Attorney's Office nor the FBI would comment further on the case, saying it remains in the investigative stage. No formal charges have been filed.
The four agencies have been investigating accusations that Mr. Baxter, Mr. Martin and Miss Clark misappropriated more than $2 million since September, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in the District. The inquiry began after the union's parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, audited the books in response to complaints about members being overcharged on dues.
Miss Bullock and Mrs. Hemphill resigned their posts with the union in September, under pressure from the union board. Mr. Baxter was suspended.
Mrs. Hemphill, who resigned her post as co-chairman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' re-election campaign in September, also recently resigned her part-time, unpaid post as executive director of the D.C. Democratic State Committee.
Investigators are looking into cash payments and transfers in addition to the questionable purchases of paintings, clothing from high-end retailers and audio-video equipment.
Various pieces of art from the Ramee Art Gallery were found in all the suspects' homes.
In addition to various personal items seized in the searches executed Dec. 19, thousands of financial documents including store purchase and credit-card receipts, computer hardware and disks, date books and tax statements were taken as evidence, according to an FBI affidavit obtained by The Washington Times.
The affidavit said that Mr. Martin, who is married to Mrs. Hemphill's daughter Cheryl, received more than $100,000 from the union for work he did under his business "Expression Unlimited" for Miss Bullock.
But FBI Special Agent Katherine L. Andrews said in her affidavit that she discovered no work was ever done.
Mr. Baxter is said to have written several union checks to himself totaling in the thousands of dollars. He also faces charges he incorrectly filed his tax returns and failed to file documents to the Labor Department for numerous dinners and nightclub visits presumably on official business.
Numerous items were taken from the Alexandria residence of Mrs. Clark.
"Witnesses have advised us that large sums of money from WTU's checking account were converted to cash by [Miss] Bullock's driver, Leroy Holmes," said Agent Andrews in her affidavit. "Those funds were deposited in a joint account held by Miss Bullock and Miss Clark."

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