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The sentencing of a former Washington Teachers’ Union official convicted of embezzling millions in union funds was postponed to give the government an opportunity to evaluate the defendant’s mental health. Gwendolyn Hemphill, 64, who faces up to 15 years in prison, was to be sentenced last week, but the matter was delayed because of a defense claim that Hemphill is mentally ill. In court papers, federal prosecutors question reports that Hemphill is experiencing hallucinations and suicidal thoughts, noting that she never mentioned the alleged disorders until “the eve of sentencing.” The government asked U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon to dismiss the defendant’s claims. If that’s not possible, prosecutors want Hemphill to undergo an independent psychiatric evaluation without counsel present, or an in-patient evaluation for up to 30 days. Defense attorney Nancy Luque, partner with DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, declines comment, but in a recent motion, she stated Hemphill, who already is receiving private in-patient psychiatric care, is willing to undergo a mental evaluation by a government expert, but not without counsel present.
Sarah Kelley can be contacted at [email protected].

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