- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

Former Washington Teachers Union President Barbara A. Bullock caused the theft of about $5 million and the three former union officials now on trial in the case should be found not guilty, defense attorneys argued in closing arguments yesterday.

“This is a man who ought not to be here,” said attorney Robert Bonsib, pointing to former accountant James A. Goosby, 56, charged with covering up the theft in the union books and tax documents.

Nancy Luque, who is representing Gwendolyn Hemphill, also defended her client. “That woman was supposed to stop Barbara Bullock,” Ms. Luque argued, referring to Mrs. Hemphill, 64, who was the union’s office manager.

But, Ms. Luque said, “My client didn’t have the type of job to stop her.”

Similar arguments were made Thursday by an attorney for former union treasurer, James O. Baxter II, 50. His attorney argued that union expenditures for tickets to professional basketball games were a form of lobbying.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Cooper is expected to rebut defense arguments this morning before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon gives instructions to the jury. The jury may then begin deliberations in the trial, which began earlier this summer.

Bullock, 66, and five other union officials have pleaded guilty in the case.

Bullock testified earlier in the trial and hopes to get a reduction in her nine-year prison sentence. The other five are awaiting sentencing.

Witnesses seldom mentioned Mr. Goosby in their testimony. His attorney asserted that Mr. Goosby advised other suspects to “tell the truth” when the Labor Department and the FBI began investigating.

“That man was trying to tell people to do the right thing,” Mr. Bonsib said. “Mr. Goosby didn’t get a TV. Mr. Goosby didn’t get silverware. He didn’t get squat.”

Evidence showed that Mr. Goosby received $60,000 from the union, but that supposedly was pay for his accounting services.

Evidence includes a $50,000 fur coat, silverware, fashionable clothing, a champagne cooler and other expensive items purchased by Bullock. It also includes four fur coats for Cheryl and Michael Martin, who have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Cheryl Martin is Mrs. Hemphill’s daughter and Michael Martin is her son-in-law.

A $13,000 flat-screen television in evidence was purchased by Mrs. Hemphill. But Ms. Luque argued that it was a form of overtime pay and pension for Mrs. Hemphill, who often worked past 5 p.m. and worked on weekends at home.

Ms. Luque contradicted many prosecution charts, which she said presented inaccurate flows of government money. The union’s bank account often was empty, and Mrs. Hemphill sometimes paid union bills from her personal bank account, Ms. Luque said.

That explains money flow among bank accounts that the prosecution claimed instead showed money-laundering theft from the union, she said.

“The American Federation of Teachers had opportunities to go in there and stop [Bullock],” Ms. Luque said.

Although AFT sensed something was wrong in 1998, “They didn’t do a thing,” she argued.

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