Old Guard Attorney Loses Suit; More Info on D.C. Probe

The federal criminal probe into the misuse of D.C.  police union funds spilled over into D.C.  Superior Court May 18, where a hearing pitted several lawyers against union bosses. At issue is who should hold the contract to represent the union and who makes decisions on behalf of the union, the Fraternal Order of Police/Metro. Police Labor Comm. Ted J. Williams, MPLC’s disputed attorney, is suing his client’s chairman, Gerald G. Neill, and attorney Kenneth Bynum, claiming breach of contract. Neill claims he has authority to pick the union’s attorney, Bynum.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Linda K. Davis gave two apparent victories to Neill at May 23 hearing. She ruled that Williams has no standing to sue over the matter and must seek arbitration. Davis also dismissed a suit filed by three members of the MPLC’s exec. comm. who sought to bar Neill from picking Bynum. Neill´s opponents on the committee are Rene Holden, vice-chairman; Tyrone Best, treasurer; and Michael W. Johnson, executive steward. Davis admonished Neill´s three opponents to “follow proper procedures” as they make decisions.

The ongoing legal battle is being waged on several fronts. MPLC’s ex-boss, Frank Tracy, is suing Neill for defamation. Williams, who still holds the union files, has promised more suits against Neill.

At the same, MPLC is struggling over other matters. An investigation by the D.C. Lodge of the FOP, found the MPLC’s bylaws were improperly changed last year and MPLC has been directed to use the previous rules. Audiotapes of a meeting last year reveal that the necessary quorum of 250 members was not present, thereby invalidating the vote to change the bylaws.

Also, a recall effort is underway against Holden and Best, and one organizer said he has about 700 of the 820 signatures needed. The recall petition focuses on Holden and Best because they are subjects of an ongoing federal criminal probe into the misuse of union funds. Tracy, now a consultant for the D.C. police dep’t, also is a subject of the probe.

FBI agents reportedly raided MPLC’s offices May 17 to obtain additional records from Best´s office. Recently, federal prosecutors have reportedly subpoenaed more records from the union. Reportedly, the raid came after federal authorities deepened the probe into who spent as much as $80,000 in union money on items such as a stay at a “couples-only” resort in Pa., a $300 pair of shoes, art and other items unrelated to official business.  The probe also reportedly looking at the purchase of several thousand dollars’ worth of computers and related equipment. These computers were allegedly not in MPLC’s office when Neill took over the union last year. Further, some of  the bosses under investigation have reportedly been repaying money  (about $8,000) to MPLC.

The federal probe began in Nov. 2000 after an internal audit noted a number of financial irregularities, such as a lack of documentation and receipts from cash and credit-card purchases, according to a copy of the May & Barnhard accounting firm audit obtained by the Washington Times. Neill then brought the problems to the attention of the D.C. police internal-affairs unit, which notified prosecutors and the FBI. [Wash. Times 5/24, 5/19, 5/18/01]