The process of meting out justice to the racket that was the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) under now-imprisoned former President Barbara Bullock is in the final stage. Four of the participants learned their fate in federal court last month. Their convictions would seem to be the culmination of four years of revelations of greed and treachery at the Washington, D.C. affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
Arguably the most important of the four guilty defendants was Michael Martin. On October 12, Martin, son-in-law of former Executive Assistant Gwendolyn Hemphill, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to six months in prison, to be followed by three years probation, for his role in the massive embezzlement scheme that defrauded the union out of around $4.6 million during 1995-2002. Martin pled guilty back in April 2003 to laundering union funds. Aided by “partner” Errol Alderman, he’d set up a phony business, Expressions Unlimited, at the request of Bullock and Hemphill. WTU funds were routed to Expressions Unlimited, which in turn funneled the money back to Martin’s bosses. Martin will have to pay $650,000 in restitution and perform 200 hours of community service.
Martin’s wife (i.e., Hemphill’s daughter), Cheryl Martin, was an unheralded player, but she, too, had her day in federal court. She was sentenced on October 21 to four years’ probation, 500 hours of community service, and, like her husband, will be forced to pay (or share in paying) $650,000 in restitution.
Then there was Leroy Holmes, who performed a “mule” role as President Bullock’s chauffeur. Holmes made bank deposits that made the money-laundering scheme appear legitimate. Back in February 2003, Holmes pled guilty to conspiracy, having cashed more than $1 million in union checks, turning over most of the proceeds to Bullock and Hemphill. He will have to serve 12 months and one day in prison, to be followed by three years probation. Holmes also will have to perform 500 hours of community service and pay $955,000 in restitution.
The fourth person to receive justice was a relatively minor figure in the scandal, Robin Klein, an outside Maryland-based accountant retained by the WTU. On October 10, Klein was sentenced to four years probation, plus 500 hours of community service. Klein in June 2005 pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to disclose material facts in an accounting report prepared for the union. The union proceeded to file its LM-2 reporting form to the Department of Labor (some of its members were private-sector employees, and thus it had to file). The sentences follows a joint investigation by the Labor Department, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. (OLMS, 10/23/06).