Most state employees are honest, hard-working people who go to work every day with the intention of doing their jobs to the best of their ability in service to the state and its taxpayers. And then…there are a few bad apples: those who misuse their positions in state government for their own benefit. Today’s Fraud comes from a report in The Oklahoman, which highlights instances in which a small number of former Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) employees were accused of inappropriate behavior, and sometimes plead guilty to criminal charges.
According to a report from The Oklahoman, DHS workers, usually known for their ability to assist the needy, were accused of various charges. For instance, one DHS law enforcement agent was fired after pleading guilty to “sexual harassment, conduct unbecoming a public employee, misuse of state equipment, discourteous treatment of others.” In another example, a former social services specialist pleaded guilty to four counts of petit larceny for absconding with four missing or “found” Visa gift cards, donated by a bank as Christmas presents for foster children, and used them for herself. (No…she wasn’t out buying gifts for the kids she stole from!) Still another instance involved a former adult protective services specialist who prosecutors allegedly stole over $10,000 from men (one disabled and one incapacitated) in her charge. She pleaded guilty to three felony counts of exploiting a vulnerable adult. Lastly, two former DHS social services agents are on probation for 10 years for creating phony Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) accounts. The two pleaded guilty to conspiracy and computer fraud, admitting that together they obtained over $20,000 in SNAP benefits. In addition to the probation, they were each ordered to pay over $10,000 in restitution. (Okay…so, they got caught and had to pay it back. Basically, they wound up with a little less than a year of probation for each $1,000 they stole. Why no jail time?)
As I said in the beginning, most state workers do their jobs, and they do them well. Fraud and inappropriate conduct exist everywhere and this article points out a few bad apples. What is your agency doing to find its own bad apples?