Ex-Local Leader in Los Angeles Gets Probation for Theft

Janett Humphries isn’t in the best of health these days, something that a federal judge in Los Angeles likely took into account at sentencing time. Humphries, 63, pleaded guilty last November to one count of conspiracy and three counts of embezzlement for diverting about $36,000 from her union, Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real on May 14 gave five years’ probation, and ordered her to pay $5,149 in restitution, pay a $500 special assessment, and perform 1,000 hours of community service. Humphries’ lawyer Ricardo Torres II, pleading for leniency, stated that his client has Alzheimer’s disease and recently suffered a stroke. 

Humphries diverted SEIU Local 99 funds to pay for about $33,000 in wages to more than a half-dozen persons who worked on the 2003 Los Angeles City Council campaign of labor leader Martin Ludlow. She also provided Ludlow with a cell phone, which he used to rack up an estimated $3,400 in bills, and diverted union funds to pay for personal travel expenses. Ludlow subsequently stepped down from his council post in 2005 to head the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, before facing conspiracy charges of his own early in 2006. He pleaded guilty that March. Prosecutors think Humphries, despite her health problems, got off too easily. “This sends the wrong message in a case like this,” said U.S. Attorney Craig Missakian, saying that Humphries “betrayed the trust” of union members. As for Humphries, she’s currently serving 180 days home detention on state charges related to the scandal. (Associated Press, 5/15/07; OLMS, 5/30/07).