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Gwendolyn Hemphill fought mightily over her 23-count conviction for her role in bilking nearly $5 million from the Washington Teachers’ Union. But more than six months after the union official was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 11 years in prison, she’s aiming for a new trial. The reason? The defense claims the government did not hand over critical information about a central witness used to convict her at trial. In Dec. 6 court filings by defense lawyer Nancy Luque of DLA Piper, Hemphill alleges the government did not disclose that Leroy Holmes, the former chauffeur for the union who testified he had conspired with Hemphill to embezzle money from the union, had a history of “minor thefts.” That information, Hemphill alleges, could have helped discredit this witness. “No other witness or documentary evidence supported Holmes’ contention. The government made no attempt to independently corroborate his statements,” Luque wrote. Because of this, “the exact amount and ultimate disposition of hundreds of the thousands of dollars Holmes says he returned to Mrs. Hemphill, left Mrs. Hemphill without the crucible of meaningful cross examination.” Channing Phillips of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia says, “We believe the motion to be without merit.” Holmes’ attorney, Louis Martucci, could not be reached for comment. Holmes pleaded guilty to one felony count of embezzlement in February 2003 but wasn’t sentenced until October 2006, when Hemphill says the background information was first disclosed.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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