Key prosecution witness Leroy Holmes yesterday concluded five days of testimony in which he admitted that he was guilty and that the other defendants in the Washington Teachers Union also should admit their guilt.
“This whole case is about a lie,” former chauffeur Holmes told jurors in the trial of three former union employees charged with stealing and hiding more than $5 million from the union.
“I am guilty,” said Holmes during cross-examination by defense attorneys, and “your clients need to admit what they did.”
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon told the jury that the prosecution might conclude Wednesday its case against former union Treasurer James O. Baxter II, 50, and former office manager Gwendolyn Hemphill, 63, both charged with conspiracy and embezzlement; and former accountant James A. Goosby Jr., 56, charged with helping hide the thefts of union money.
Former union President Barbara A. Bullock, 66, pleaded guilty in the case and is serving nine years in prison in West Virginia.
Mr. Goosby’s defense attorney, Bob Bonsib, led the attack on Holmes, who has pleaded guilty in the case but could get a reduction in a potential 20-year sentence because of his testimony against his former associates.
Mr. Bonsib presented documents and statements by Holmes that differed from his statements on the witness stand. Holmes entered the plea agreement Feb. 6, 2003, but withheld information until May, one month before the trial began, Mr. Bonsib said.
Mr. Bonsib also showed income tax and union financial records Holmes gave to Mr. Goosby. But the figures were different than those that Holmes later gave to another certified accountant, Mr. Bonsib argued.
Mrs. Hemphill’s attorney, Deborah St. Jean, also accused Holmes of lying.
An American Federation of Teachers audit stated the evidence against the defendants, including a statement by Holmes that Mrs. Hemphill urged then union Vice President Esther Hankerson to fire Holmes.
Ms. St. Jean referred Holmes to the statement he made to a Labor Department official about Mrs. Hemphill’s efforts, and asked Holmes to acknowledge its accuracy.
“I don’t remember telling him that,” Holmes said yesterday.
Stacy Mills, who began working with Mr. Goosby in preparing WTU tax returns on Feb. 7, 2001, testified yesterday that a big box containing envelopes of checks, stemming over several years, were not in any kind of order. She also said many did not indicate what they paid for.