- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2003

A fourth key figure in the Washington Teachers Union case pleaded guilty yesterday to helping union officials steal $2.5 million of union funds.

Errol Alderman, a D.C. Department of Health employee, was charged Oct. 1 with conspiracy to launder $483,543 through a fictitious company created to embezzle money to union officials. He faces up to five years in prison.

Alderman is expected to get a reduced sentence if he cooperates with authorities. He will likely serve between 30 and 37 months under federal sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said. A status hearing at U.S. District Court is scheduled for Dec. 23.

Alderman joins three others who have pleaded guilty in the scheme, including former WTU President Barbara A. Bullock.

Last week, Bullock pleaded guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud. Bullock, who will be sentenced in January, faces up to 10 years in prison. Her former chauffeur, Leroy Holmes, pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to defraud the union.

Alderman’s business partner, Michael Wayne Martin, pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to commit money laundering. He remains free without bond and is cooperating with the federal prosecutors’ investigation.

Prosecutors said Alderman, 29, and Martin, 43, opened a bank account on behalf of Expressions Unlimited, a now-defunct company that Alderman had created to sell designer clothing. The account was used to launder funds from WTU Local 6, they said.

Martin’s wife, Cheryl, is the daughter of Gwendolyn M. Hemphill, former executive assistant to Bullock when she was union president.

Alderman told prosecutors that he was motivated to get involved with the conspiracy by his friendship with Martin, who helped get Alderman a job with the D.C. government.

According to court documents filed in the case, authorities said Alderman had authority to sign checks on the Expressions Unlimited account, but Martin received direction from union officials on how much money to withdraw and how funds were to be distributed.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) now manages the WTU. An audit by the AFT showed $5 million was missing from union funds, though federal records indicate the total is closer to $2.5 million.

An FBI affidavit filed in the case implicated Alderman, Bullock, Martin, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Hemphill, former union Treasurer James O. Baxter, Holmes and Bullock’s sister, Gwendolyn B. Clark, in the fraud.

Mrs. Hemphill and Mr. Baxter, who are no longer associated with the union, have not been indicted on any charges, but remain targets of the ongoing federal investigation.

Bank records of Alderman’s fictitious company show checks totaling more than $10,000 were deposited into one of Mrs. Hemphill’s personal accounts. The checks included Alderman’s signature.

Authorities said union funds were used to buy tickets to sporting and entertainment events, plus luxury items including clothing, electronics and art.

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