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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SEIU boss embezzled for politics, gets probation

The ex-president of the union local representing school workers was placed on five years' probation for looting funds to pay for travel expenses and pay workers in a City Council campaign.

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real on Monday rejected the prosecutor's demand for prison time after the defense attorney for Janett Humphries described the 63-year-old woman's poor health.

Besides probation, she was ordered to do 1,000 hours of community service and pay $5,149 restitution to the union.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Craig Missakian was critical of the light sentence, saying Humphries had "betrayed the trust" of members of the Service Employees International Union, Local 99.

"This sends exactly the wrong message in a case like this," Missakian said after sentencing.

Humphries pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy and four counts of embezzlement. She was convicted in Superior Court in October of campaign finance charges related to the case.

Humphries is already serving her state sentence of 180 days in jail at home while wearing an electronic monitor.

Humphries used union money to pay for her travel expenses and pay workers for the 2003 council campaign of Martin Ludlow. Ludlow won the 2003 election but later left the council to lead the county labor federation.

In 2005, Ludlow pleaded guilty to federal charges in the case and was also placed on five years' federal probation.

Humphries had SEIU Local 99 pay $33,000 in salaries to seven of Ludlow's campaign workers and provided him with a cellular telephone, which he used to rack up nearly $3,400 in bills.