A federal judge sentenced former Los Angeles City Councilman Martin Ludlow on Monday to five years' probation and 2,000 hours of community service, and ordered him to return $36,400 diverted from a school employees union to his 2003 election campaign.
The sentence by U.S. District Judge Manuel Real followed Ludlow's recent guilty plea to a charge of conspiring to embezzle union funds. In hopes of avoiding jail, Ludlow agreed to cooperate with authorities in the federal prosecution of Janett Humphries, the former head of Service Employees International Union Local 99, who is accused of working with Ludlow to divert the funds.
"I'd like to apologize to the court and to my family and anyone in this matter that has been affected," Ludlow, 41, told the judge. "I do accept responsibility for what I did."
Ludlow admitted to improperly using union money to pay six people who were put on the union payroll but who actually worked on his City Council election campaign. The money also covered the cost of a cellphone he used in the campaign.
The sentence also bars Ludlow from serving in a leadership position with a union for 13 years.
Ludlow, who resigned from the council last summer to serve as executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, has been cooperative in an ongoing investigation of union finances, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Craig H. Missakian.
"I think it's a fair sentence given the fact that Mr. Ludlow stepped up early and did the right thing and took complete responsibility," Missakian said.
In addition to the federal sentence, Ludlow previously was fined $105,000 by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for violating city campaign finance laws. He recently also was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to pay $45,000 in fines and penalties by a state court for violating state laws in the scheme.
Outside the courthouse, the former councilman said he was putting his life back on track.
"I'm looking very much forward to getting this behind me and my family, and continuing to be a positive person in the community and a contributing member of society," Ludlow said.