- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Prosecutors in the embezzlement trial of former Washington Teachers Union officials yesterday called the former son-in-law of Gwendolyn Hemphill to testify about how he helped the defendant and others take nearly $5 million in union money.

The former in-law, Michael Martin, 45, talked about deals with Mrs. Hemphill, 63, the union’s former office manager. However, most of his testimony was against Barbara A. Bullock, the former union president who has already testified to reduce the nine-year sentence she is serving in an Alderson, W.Va., prison.

Martin said he helped her shop and go to parties, art shows and on campaign trips in exchange for gifts or for money from the union or “her own checks.”

He acknowledged his hope that the testimony would reduce his potential 20-year prison term. He pleaded guilty to U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon last year but has yet to be sentenced on charges of conspiracy to defraud and launder stolen money.

Martin also testified he would cash checks for Mrs. Hemphill, whom he called “Nannie,” and made deposits for Bullock, in her 60s, and that he would sometimes get checks for himself.

Frequently, he and a co-worker at Coalition for the Homeless would go to union offices to get checks from Mrs. Hemphill or Bullock, then take them to an Independence Bank branch to cash or deposit, Martin said.

Mrs. Hemphill is charged with conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the theft of $5 million, between the late 1990s and 2002.

Former union treasurer James O. Baxter II, 50, faces similar charges but so far has not been implicated in wrongdoing by Martin.

Former accountant James A. Goosby Jr., 56, is also on trial, charged with helping hide the thefts by filing phony financial reports.

Martin said he was “6 or 7 years old” when he met Mrs. Hemphill. He was married 23 years to Mrs. Hemphill’s daughter, Cheryl Hemphill Martin, who also has pleaded guilty to involvement in the theft. Previous testimony said the couple bought fur coats with union American Express cards.

Earlier yesterday, Steven Baughan, of B&B; Washington’s Caterer, testified about providing expensive meals and equipment for union holiday parties, political rallies, school meetings and at Christmas.

For example, Mr. Baughan said he supervised a wedding reception for 100 guests for the Hemphills’ son at a cost of $8,612.50.

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