- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Federal prosecutors yesterday charged a D.C. Department of Health employee with conspiracy in connection with a scheme to embezzle more than $2.5 million in Washington Teachers 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 Washington Teachers Union (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.

An audit by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — which has taken over management of the WTU — showed $5 million was unaccounted for, though federal records indicate the total is closer to $2.5 million.

According to court documents filed in the case, authorities said Mr. Alderman, 29, opened a bank account at Bank of America on behalf of the company. He was authorized to sign checks on the account, but Martin received direction from union officials on how much money to withdraw and how funds were to be distributed.

Martin’s wife, Cheryl, is the daughter of Gwendolyn M. Hemphill, former executive assistant to then-union President Barbara A. Bullock. Last night, WUSA-TV (Channel 9) reported that Miss Bullock agreed earlier in the day to plead guilty to her role in the conspiracy.

Channel 9 reported Miss Bullock has agreed to a plea bargain that calls for her to serve 10 years in federal prison. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office would not comment on Channel 9’s report other than to say the only documents filed in the WTU case involved Mr. Alderman, Martin and Leroy Holmes. Holmes is the former handyman for the union who also served as Miss Bullock’s personal driver.

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

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

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

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Mr. Alderman could appear in federal court as early as next week in connection with the conspiracy charge.

The revelation about Mr. Alderman’s involvement in the scheme came during a hearing for Holmes.

“He has talked to the FBI agents involved in the case,” said Louis Martucci, a defense attorney representing Holmes.

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 Bullock and Mrs. Hemphill. He remains free without bond and is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leone ordered Holmes to appear in court Dec. 17 for another status hearing. Martin’s next court date is Jan. 5. Both men face up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

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