With many budget cuts in the last few years, not-for-profit agencies have felt the sting. The workers in these agencies believe in their missions so they avoid extra spending. For example, the chairs at the free clinic still haven’t been replaced. At the shelter for victims of domestic violence, the roof has leaked for two years. And in many agencies, if a staff person leaves, that person is rarely replaced. Instead, the work load is dispersed among other employees.
And so, our investigators were surprised when the executive director of Vocational Rehabilitation stopped by. She had a keen eye and a careful watch on agency books and shared with us that she suspected a certain mental health agency was purposefully overcharging services rendered to Vocational Rehabilitation. Each month, the bill from this particular agency is nearly doubled when compared to charges rendered by other agencies. She wanted our staff to either prove that her hunch was correct or provide an explanation for the doubled amount of billable hours.
has an excellent reputation for thinking outside the box. That is why one of our youngest investigators posed as a graduate student, asking to do an internship at the mental health agency. As expected, the agency director jumped at the chance to have an extra set of hands, especially at no charge. Our investigator opened the cabinet housing surveillance equipment. When she showed up for work the next day, she wore a personal listening device and carried a tiny camera on her purse.
While the listening and surveillance equipment did its job, the program manager explained that even if a call to Vocational Rehabilitation was less than five minutes, she was to bill the agency for 30 minutes. When our investigator pretended to very timidly question the ethics of this practice, the program manager assured her that Voc Rehab had a much larger budget than the mental health agency. He also reminded our undercover investigator that if she would like to keep her internship or maybe one day be employed by the agency, she would do as she was asked.
While overbilling hours is not the same as theft by employees or employee embezzlement, it is still business embezzlement. In this case it wasn’t embezzlement by employee for personal gain, but still theft in the workplace by overcharging another agency of the state.
The fact that one person wasn’t stealing for themselves personally didn’t really matter to the executive director of Vocational Rehabilitation. She confidently met with the State Prosecutor’s office with evidence of the theft, intent on getting back the money stolen from her agency.
works on the premise that the facts speak the truth and our mission is to give our clients the truth.
-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations