Employee that bilked Richmond taxpayers out of $32,000 gets 2 mo - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Employee that bilked Richmond taxpayers out of $32,000 gets 2 months jail time

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A former Richmond city employee convicted of wire fraud for ripping off the city won't be spending much time in jail.

A judge sentenced Staci Boone to two months in jail, followed by 10 months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. She will be on three years supervised probation and will pay the city $8,000 in restitution.

Earlier this year, Staci Boone pleaded guilty to wire fraud, admitting she took advantage of Richmond's willingness to invest in her professional development.

The former Richmond City employee cost taxpayers $54,000 in travel, educational expenses and unapproved absences over a three-year period, according to a report released by the city's auditor.

The report by city auditor Umesh Dalal says $32,000 of those funds were "questionable, unjustified or fraudulent."

NBC12 broke the news in February that Staci Boone pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud, stemming from her work in in the city’s Department of Public Utilities. An anonymous tip into the auditor's office alleged Boone "has been allowed to spend over $30,000 for continuing education courses." The complaint also stated she "was not working a full day."

Investigators discovered numerous issues including:

  • She traveled to Houston for training and overcharged the city $270 for hotel expenses.
  • She bought airline tickets the day before travel, instead of weeks ahead of time, costing the City extra expenses for airfare.
  • She overcharged the City for a flight to San Jose for a conference. She ended up going to Seattle instead.

In another instance, Boone asked the city to reimburse her for $1,104.40. for her trip to the PMI Research and Education Conference in Portland. Boone again flew from Richmond International to Seattle International Airport, but she never traveled to Portland and never went to the conference. She still asked the city to pay for her round-trip flight, a per diem for her five-day trip and mileage to and from her home in Suffolk.

Boone owes the city $9,556.49 in restitution as part of her plea deal. She’s already paid $1,104.40 of that amount. She faces up to 20 years in prison and will be sentenced by a federal judge in April.

The auditor concluded that all of this happened because "two members of the executive team did not detect discrepancies in documentation submitted to them for approval."

In his report, he says "weak controls and inadequate supervision at the highest level of the City Administration resulted in a substantial loss to the city."

The report states the former Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Operations (Chris Beschler) indicated he was instructed by the former Chief Administrative Officer (Byron Marshall) to authorize Boone’s training and education expenditures. However, the investigator found no evidence of such instruction.

Beschler became interim CAO when Marshall resigned. The former Director of Public Works (James Jackson) was appointed as interim DCAO. The report indicates that Jackson continued Beschler’s practice of authorizing expenditures for Boone.

NBC12 asked the city what changes it has made to make sure this does not happen again. Spokesperson Tammy Hawley told us she doesn't have any information on any policy updates. She goes on to say "the auditor's report does not suggest any lack of policies and procedures in place to verify expenses. The report emphasizes inadequate supervision of the employee. The ramifications of that are hard to speak to since those responsible for the supervision are no longer with the City."

Here is Boone's employment history with the city: 

  • Hired into a Human Resources Consultant position in the Department of Human Resources on April 24, 2006. 
  • Promoted to a Project Management Analyst position in the Finance Department’s Risk Management Unit on September 4, 2007.
  • Transferred from the Department of Finance (Risk Management Unit) to the Department of Public Utilities (still in the Project Management Analyst position) on December 6, 2010.
  • Assigned as a project management analyst to the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Operations. 
  • Remained in that position under the supervision of DCAO for Operations until on Leave Without Pay pending disciplinary review and/or investigation on September 4, 2014.
  • Termination effective February 12, 2016.

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