Friday, October 7, 2005

A high-ranking Washington Teachers Union official has reached a tentative deal to settle a federal lawsuit he filed seeking to recoup millions of dollars in embezzled teacher dues.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on Wednesday released a “proposed resolution” in the lawsuit that Nathan Saunders filed in 2002 against the union’s former board of trustees. Mr. Saunders was a D.C. public schools teacher in 2002; today, he is the union’s vice president.

Mr. Saunders said the union leadership failed to detect the pilfering of teacher dues between 1995 and 2002 by top union executives, who have been convicted of fraud, conspiracy, embezzlement and other charges.

In his lawsuit, Mr. Saunders also sued Independence Federal Savings Bank, where the union executives did much of their banking. The company has said it has cooperated in the federal probe.

Former union President Barbara A. Bullock, who pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy, is serving a nine-year prison sentence. Two other leaders were convicted last month for their roles in the scheme to embezzle nearly $5 million in teacher union dues.

Mr. Saunders was a teacher at Anacostia High School in the District when he filed the lawsuit in 2002. He became the union’s vice president earlier this year.

The tentative agreement calls for the WTU and its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, to “jointly pursue the recovery of money from those who embezzled and absconded with millions of dollars from the WTU,” the settlement document states.

In addition, the union and federation have agreed to pursue “individuals and entities that aided and abetted or facilitated the embezzlement of funds,” the document states.

According to the proposed resolution, the union and the federation will continue to pursue claims against former executives and Independence Federal Savings.

The court document also outlines a repayment plan in which the union will reimburse the federation $466,638 in delinquent teacher dues resulting from the embezzlement. The union will pay the federation $10,000 a month over the next four years.

Because Mr. Saunders filed his lawsuit on behalf of the union as an institution, teachers will get a chance to review the agreement before the deal becomes official.

“It still needs to be presented to the membership at large before the judge approves it,” said Patricia Byrne, attorney for Mr. Saunders.

Miss Byrne said Thursday that the union’s current board of directors has voted to approve the agreement. But she added that teacher union members will get a chance to comment on it next month in U.S. District Court.

Judge Sullivan has scheduled a Nov. 13 hearing to find out if the “resolution is fair…and in the best interests of the [union],” the agreement states.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide