If you’re a regular AOC Watcher reader you probably know that more than one reader has commented on a $100,000 embezzlement scandal at the Administrative Office of the Courts that for some reason had escaped the notice of the media. AOC Watcher readers have been wondering, as I have, whether there was any truth to the embezzlement story or whether it was pure malarky. Well, according to copies of internal AOC documents that I’ve seen, it would appear that certain hiring exceptions were made that involves the person alleged to have embezzled funds from the AOC. The whole story is a bit complicated and has many twists and turns and I will try my best to tell this story as simply and clearly as I possibly can.
Our story begins in the Fall of 2005 when the HR Director for the AOC, who for our purposes I will call Mr. Green, hired a temporary employee, whom I’ll call Mr. X, for a Budget Analyst position. What was odd about the hiring was that the position that the temporary employee was hired for was a regular position that was approved and budgeted for. But for some reason Mr. Green, the HR Director, saw fit to hire Mr. X as a temporary employee.
The AOC at that time had a contract to hire temporary employees from the firm of Wollborg/Michelson Personnel Services. As part of its contract with the AOC, it was spelled out in the fine print of the contract that all temporary employees of Wollborg/Michaelson that were hired for work by the AOC had to undergo a criminal background check that regular employees had to undergo. In addition to the background check, Wollborg/Michaelson agreed to waive the “conversion fee” should the AOC decide to hire the temporary employee as a regular employee. In other words, the AOC would not have to pay Wollborg/Michaelson a “conversion fee” for hiring their temporary employee as a full time employee.
So, with that being said, anybody reading this would assume that hiring Mr. X from the temp firm of Wollborg/Michaelson meant that Mr. X would have to undergo a background check, and should he be hired full time the temp firm would not charge the AOC a conversion fee. Except for one thing. Mr. X was not hired from Wollborg/Michaelson. Instead, Mr. X was hired from a different temporary firm called Accountemps. A firm that the AOC did not have a contract with. This hiring decision by Mr. Green would later turn out to have negative repercussions.
When Mr. Green hired Mr. X from Accountemps, he did so using a “special requisition” and explained that Mr. X would only be hired for 90 days. And because Mr. X was hired from Accountemps he didn’t have to undergo a background check. In fact, the copy of the Accountemps contract used to hire Mr. X specifically states under the section “Scope of Background Inquiries”
There are substantial legal restrictions on the use and communication of various types of employment-related information. We have not screened for drug use, administered a medical exam, conducted a criminal background check, or engaged in any verification process other than these reference checks.
That portion of the contract goes on to state that should the AOC decide that it wanted to obtain more information about Mr. X’s background, the AOC would be referred to third parties to conduct the background checks. Nothing in the papers I’ve seen show that such a request was made of Accountemps.
Now, Mr. X, who was hired in the fall of 2005 and who was originally supposed to be hired for 90 days, was still working for the AOC in the summer of 2006 when the AOC switched temp agencies. The new temp agency that the AOC would be contracting with was AppleOne. When AppleOne took over the contract from Wollborg/Michaelson it agreed to waive the “conversion fee” for switching former Wollborg/Michaelson temp employees over to the new AppleOne contract. However, a different scenario seems to have been put into place for dealing with Mr. X.
Mr. X, whose contract was with Accountemps, had to be converted to the new contract with AppleOne. Not only that, there had to be a change to his employment status with the AOC as he had been originally hired as a temp employee for 90 days. It is at this point in our story when Mr. Green’s Assistant HR Director became involved. Let’s call her Ms. Redd. Ms. Redd drew up a new special requisition in which Mr. X’s employment would be switched from that of a temporary employee status to a continuous assignment status. In addition, the special requisition also authorized the payment of a “conversion fee” to Accountemps. A fee that had been waived by both Wollborg/Michaelson and AppleOne. Total cost to the AOC for the payment of a conversion fee to Accountemps for Mr X? $16,796.
And here’s the kicker. Why did the AOC authorize payment to Accountemps for a conversion fee when Mr. X was merely being transferred from Accountemps to AppleOne? It is my understanding that the conversion fee should only have been paid if the AOC was hiring him as a regular employee. Therefore, the AOC should not have paid the conversion fee since he was being transferred from one temp agency to another. It would also appear that this whole process did not follow guidelines set up by the AOC in regards to counter-approving signatures. In other words, there had to be more than one signature authorizing everything. The only signature on the documents I’ve seen belong to the Assistant HR Director, Ms. Redd.
Mr. X was an employee of AppleOne, his employment status was no longer a temporary one but he was now working under a continuous assignment, a conversion fee of $16,796 had been paid to Accountemps, and on top of all that, he continued to work for the AOC having undergone NO background check.
In late September or early October of 2006, it was discovered that Mr. X had embezzled funds from the AOC. Although I have nothing in writing stating exactly how much Mr. X may have embezzled or how he did it, it is my understanding that the amount ranged from $50,000 to well over $100,000. From what I gather, Mr. X simply disappeared like a shadow in the night after the AOC made the discovery and he was not heard from again. I have no information to show that the AOC ever went to the authorities about the embezzlement. Nor do I have any information to show that the AOC attempted to go after Mr. X for the funds he embezzled.
The whole tale leaves us with more questions than answers. For instance, why did Mr. Green hire Mr. X using the Accountemps firm that did not have an obligation to check Mr. X’s background? For that matter, why did the AOC not request that Accountemps hire a third party to conduct the background check? Why did Assistant HR Director Ms. Redd draw up a new requisition authorizing the change in Mr. X’s background and the payment of a “conversion fee” to Accountemps? Under whose authority did Ms. Redd draw up the new requisition?
And then there’s Mr. X. So many questions it boggles the mind. But here’s one I’d like an answer to. With a talent to schmooze his way into the AOC, avoid a background check, and then disappear after supposedly embezzling AOC funds, is Mr. X working as a magician somewhere?