Janett Humphries isn’t like her former ally, Martin Ludlow: She thinks she can beat the rap. For her sake, she’d better be right. She’s facing a maximum of five years in federal prison on each of 18 counts. On Monday, March 20, Ms. Humphries, formerly president of SEIU Local 99, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles to embezzling $36,000 in 2003 to help Ludlow get elected to the Los Angeles City Council; she allegedly also used union funds on travel expenses for relatives and a friend.
It will be an uphill case. Ludlow took prosecutors’ plea-bargain offer for his role in embezzling funds, and is expected to testify against Humphries. Having left the City Council last year to head the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, he’s facing a restitution order and a 13-year ban on holding a union position (a ban reportedly plea-bargained down to five years). The Humphries indictment includes one count of conspiracy to embezzle union funds and 17 counts of embezzling funds to pay for six workers on Ludlow’s campaign, Ludlow’s cell phone service, and travel for her daughters and a friend. The indictment alleges she directed a bookkeeper to put Ludlow campaign workers on the union payroll, and then ordered the bookkeeper to clean up the files, and the workers to backdate some reports. Humphries’ attorney, Nick Pacheco, thinks the feds have the wrong person. “We firmly believe that the prosecution here has misread the facts, and Janett Humphries should not be a target,” he said. That may be a tough sell to a jury once Ludlow takes the stand. (Los Angeles Times, 3/21/06).