- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 9, 2006

Former Washington Teachers Union office manager Gwendolyn M. Hemphill must report to prison in Connecticut this month amid concerns about having her locked up in the same West Virginia prison as former union President Barbara A. Bullock.

Hemphill, 64, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in May for her role in the embezzlement of millions of dollars in teacher dues, had hoped to report to the Alderson Federal Prison in West Virginia, where Martha Stewart was incarcerated.

However, Bullock, 68, who testified against Hemphill, is serving her more than nine-year term at Alderson for fraud and conspiracy in the case, prosecutors said at Hemphill’s May 22 sentencing hearing.

Hemphill and former union treasurer James O. Baxter were convicted of embezzlement, conspiracy and other charges.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said at the hearing that having Bullock and Hemphill in the same prison could be “awkward.”

Last week, Judge Leon ordered Hemphill to surrender July 19 at the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut by 2 p.m. The order does not state the reason for the federal Bureau of Prison’s assignment to Danbury, which, like Alderson, is a minimum-security facility for female inmates.

Hemphill’s attorney, Deborah St. Jean, has continued to ask Judge Leon to allow her client to serve her time in Alderson so she can regularly visit with family.

“At sentencing, the government expressed concern that Ms. Bullock is also housed at the same facility,” Mrs. St. Jean stated in a letter to the judge in May. “Mrs. Hemphill would like the court to know that Ms. Bullock’s presence in no way poses any concern to Mrs. Hemphill.”

The letter also stated that Bullock and Hemphill are “of an age where it is unlikely they would represent physical threats to each other.”

Hemphill, former co-manager for Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ 2002 re-election campaign, “wishes simply to fulfill her sentence obligation and be able to visit with her family” and Bullock’s presence in Alderson “is of no moment to her,” the letter also states.

Baxter was sentenced June 5 to 10 years in prison and must report by Aug. 8. Bullock is being resentenced Sept. 25 on an appeal. She will remain at Alderson pending the sentencing.

The Washington Teachers Union is still struggling to climb out of debt. The embezzlement cost $5 million, and money was spent on sporting tickets, custom clothes, limousine service and other personal items, including wigs and dental expenses.

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