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Former union chief pleads guilty to federal embezzlement charges

Times Staff Writer

The former president of a union representing Los Angeles school workers pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges that she embezzled funds four years ago to pay for her own unauthorized travel as well as for campaign workers and a cellphone for then-City Council candidate Martin Ludlow.

Janett Humphries, 63, and her lawyers said recently that she would contest the charges. But after being convicted in state court last month on charges that she broke campaign finance law in Ludlow’s race and lied about it, she decided to seek a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

In a voice so soft that U.S. District Judge Manuel Real asked her to repeat some of her answers, Humphries pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy and four embezzlement counts. In all, she admitted to taking more than $30,000 from Service Employees International Union, Local 99, most of it to pay Ludlow campaign workers.

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The maximum penalty is five years in prison on each count, but sentencing guidelines and her plea agreement call for her to receive no more than 16 months. She also will have to pay restitution to the union, prosecutors said.

A sentencing hearing in the federal case is scheduled for Feb. 26. Humphries has not yet been sentenced in the state case.

Her lawyer, Ricardo Torres II, said he would seek probation because Humphries had a clean record before her recent convictions. Assistant U.S. Atty. Craig Missakian said the government had not decided on a sentence recommendation. The prosecutor also said the investigation of Local 99 remained active.

During the hearing, Humphries seemed confused and at one point declared that she was taking “Alzheimer’s pills,” a comment that Real did not acknowledge. Torres said outside of court that his client had received a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Humphries cut short a conversation with a reporter at the advice of her lawyer.

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joe.mathews@latimes.com


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