Pieces Start to Fall in D.C. Teachers Union Case

A former employee of the Washington Teachers Union pleaded guilty to a charge of money laundering on Thursday.

Leroy Holmes is one of several accused of making off with $5 million in union dues.

Holmes, a former chauffeur for expelled WTU president Barbara Bullock, allegedly cashed more than $1 million in checks and turned over the money to other union officials.

Bullock, her assistant, Gwendolyn Hemphill, and former union treasurer, James Baxter, along with five others, are also under investigation.

Holmes faces the possibility of two and a half years in prison, but could serve less time if he continues to cooperate with authorities. He is currently out on bond and will face a status hearing on April 15.

WTU is currently being run by its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, which filed suit last month in Federal District Court in Washington under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act. The group is seeking restitution on behalf of the nearly 5,000 members of the WTU for the misuse, misappropriation and conversion of union funds.

AFT filed the charges after a WTU member encouraged it to conduct an investigation of WTU books. The audit found a trail of forged signatures and altered checks, as well as $1.5 million in "inappropriate" personal charges on a WTU credit card. Another $948,000 is labeled "questionable." The audit also unearthed nearly $700,000 in "undocumented expense reimbursements," as well as $1.2 million paid to Holmes.

AFT alleges that Holmes kept only a portion of the money and returned the rest to Hemphill and Bullock. Holmes listed his salary in 2001 as $105,000, but his income tax forms listed it as $150,000.

No other charges have been filed yet.