- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2003

The administrator of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) said charges filed against a third person for stealing and laundering union funds may mark progress in the case, but the union is anxious to get past the scandal involving its former leaders.

“It’s good to get some news that something is moving along,” said WTU Administrator George Springer. “We’re anxious to have this behind us. The union, I think, was abused, and a lot of its members are concerned about this.”

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a D.C. Department of Health employee with conspiracy in connection with a scheme to embezzle more than $2.5 million in union dues.

Prosecutors said Errol Alderman and Michael Wayne Martin were business partners and opened a bank account on behalf of a fictitious company that was used to launder $483,543 from WTU Local 6. The company was called Expressions Unlimited.

Martin, 43, pleaded guilty April 11 to conspiracy to commit money laundering. He remains free without bond and is cooperating with federal prosecutors in the investigation into the scheme.

Leroy Holmes, 52, pleaded guilty Feb. 6 to conspiracy to laundering more than $1 million in illegal proceeds. He admitted to cashing $1.2 million in union checks, keeping his $1,875 weekly salary and giving remaining proceeds to former union President Barbara Bullock and her former executive assistant, Gwendolyn M Hemphill.

Holmes, the former handyman for the union who also served as Miss Bullock’s personal driver, remains free without bond and is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

But despite charges against three figures in the scheme, there have been no charges brought against the three major players — Miss Bullock, Mrs. Hemphill, and former union treasurer James O. Baxter.

An FBI affidavit filed in the case last year implicated Miss Bullock, Martin, Mr. Alderman, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Hemphill, Holmes and Miss Bullock’s sister Gwendolyn B. Clark in the fraud.

WUSA-TV (Channel 9) reported Tuesday that prosecutors had reached a plea agreement with Miss Bullock after issuing a take-it-or-leave-it deal that expired Monday night. Under the deal, Miss Bullock would serve 10 years in federal prison. The report said Mr. Baxter and Mrs. Hemphill were more likely to take their cases to trial.

Steve Spivack, Miss Bullock’s attorney, did not return a phone call yesterday seeking comment. Mrs. Hemphill’s attorney, Frederick Cooke, said he was not familiar with the report.

“There have been ongoing discussions between the government and my client, and at this point the discussions will continue,” he said.

Mr. Springer said plea agreements would be an “important step to getting this all behind us.” He stopped short of blaming prosecutors for delays in the case.

“We’re not angry with the people doing the investigation,” he said. “We’re hoping that it takes long enough to get all the information they need to successfully prosecute, but on the other hand we’re hoping it doesn’t take a whole lot longer.”

Channing Phillips, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard, would not comment on the status of any plea negotiations, but he said no further charges would be filed this week.

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