A note to government employees: Don’t falsify your timesheets — you could be facing jail time.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a conviction in exactly such a case. Courthouse News Service reports that the appeals court has upheld a conviction in the case of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where the employee, Herman Ransom, falsified his time sheets in order to play tennis and gamble during work hours. He was supposed to be working as a manager.
Ransom raised the argument before a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that he was an employee and not an hourly worker. As such, he claimed, his falsification did not affect his pay and as such, he was not technically committing theft.
This claim was rejected by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals as they calculated the deficit that he had, totaling 598.25 hours. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals also found that Ransom had sufficient intent and knowledge of his crimes and rejected his argument on the vagueness of the wire-fraud statute.
The investigation began when employees noticed Herman Ransom's long absences throughout the work day, in his Kansas City office. The Department of Housing and Urban Development subsequently placed Ransom under surveillance and discovered that between the years of 2001 and 2007, he only worked a full day 47 percent of the time, reports Courthouse News.
Ransom was convicted by a jury on 10 counts of wire fraud and 10 counts of theft of public funds. He was sentenced to one year and one day in jail. In addition to the jail time, Ransom will also have to undergo two years of supervised release.
So while falsifying time sheets in private employment might just get one fired, the lesson here is that public employees are held to a different standard.
- United States v. Ransom (FindLaw Cases)
- Search Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Cases (FindLaw Cases)
- Conviction for Falsifying Hours On Timesheet for NSA Compensation Affirmed (FindLaw's Fourth Circuit Blog)