- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2006

A federal appellate court panel has ordered that former Washington Teachers Union President Barbara A. Bullock be resentenced for her conviction in the embezzlement of millions of dollars in union dues.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously ruled June 22 to vacate Bullock’s prison sentence and send her case back to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.

A scheduling conference in the case is set for next week.

Judge Leon sentenced Bullock to more than nine years in federal prison in 2004 after she pleaded guilty to theft and embezzlement charges. As part of a plea deal, she testified last year against two former union officials, each of whom was found guilty.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to send the case back to U.S. District Court for resentencing.

At issue is whether Judge Leon would have imposed the same sentence had the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Booker been in effect. In that ruling, which was rendered after Bullock had been sentenced, the high court said mandatory federal sentencing laws are unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court said federal sentencing guidelines are advisory, and its ruling gave judges more flexibility in sentencing.

Bullock’s case is one of several involving resentencing in the wake of the Booker decision.

Judge Leon departed from sentencing guidelines in sending former union office manager Gwendolyn M. Hemphill to 11 years in prison. The guidelines called for nearly 20 years for Hemphill, a 64-year-old former campaign co-manager for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Channing Phillips, a spokes-man for the U.S. attorney’s office, said Bullock will remain in prison while her sentencing is remanded to Judge Leon.

Former union Treasurer James O. Baxter was sentenced to 10 years in prison June 5, two weeks after Hemphill learned of her sentence.

The union officials embezzled as much as $5 million over eight years.

In addition to tens of thousands of dollars in artwork, electronic equipment and wigs, the officials spent more than $500,000 on custom-made clothing, $57,000 for a sterling silver flatware set, $100,000 for Washington Redskins and Washington Wizards season tickets, $4,690 for limousine service to and from FedEx Field in Landover, $50,000 in personal catering charges and $40,000 in personal dental expenses.

Hemphill is appealing her sentence. She has sought permission to travel to Johnstown, Pa., to visit a sick brother before she must report to prison July 22.

Baxter is to report to prison Aug. 8.

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