Alleged 15-Year Payroll Theft Discovered

He’d worked long enough in payroll to know how, for instance, to pay himself in advance for vacation time — then again when he got back.

That’s one of many explanations police are probing in an investigation into how a 42-year city employee allegedly siphoned off money for himself since 2003 without getting caught — to the tune of up to $100,000.

The city payroll department employee resigned his job this past Friday after officials told him they were going to begin the process of trying to fire him.

They did that after learning that the payroll employee had allegedly been gradually pocketing money since back in the DeStefano administration. The Harp administration made the discovery during an audit inspired by the revelation last year that a different employee had stolen over $10,000 through misuse of a city credit card.

The administration contacted the police about the most recent discovery. Police have launched an investigation.

The audit found that the payroll employee “knowingly, deliberately, and surreptitiously falsified payroll records and vacation accruals to illicitly acquire a significant amount of money -–  to which the employee was not entitled,” the administration announced in a press release late Tuesday afternoon, hours after the news was first reported in the Independent.

Investigators are looking at multiple ways the employee in question — whose title was “management analyst” assigned to payroll — allegedly accessed the money.

One of those numerous ways appears to have been through vacation pay advances, according to one official familiar with the investigation. City policy allows for employees to submit forms to be paid in advance when they go on vacation. Then a payroll employee makes sure that employee does not receive that pay again upon returning.

Unless, allegedly, that payroll employee is handling his own vacation advances.

“It’s almost a prefect scam,” this official said. “He could assign himself payroll advances” and then keep the regular payments coming afterwards.

Last Tuesday officials notified the employee in question — whose title was “management analyst” assigned to payroll — that he would face a pre-termination (aka “Loudermill”) hearing, a required first step for the city to fire someone. That hearing was scheduled to take place this Monday.

But first the employee put in retirement papers on Friday.

The Independent could not reach the employee for comment and is withholding his name pending hearing his side or the entering of a plea to potential criminal charges.

In Tuesday afternoon’s release, Mayor Toni Harp is quoted describing the audit that caught the alleged long-term theft as part of broader fiscal controls her administration has instituted over the past year.

“[I]t’s a major disappointment to learn of these discrepancies, reinforcing my resolve to eradicate any others,” Harp states in the release. “Despite this apparent, isolated manipulation of the system to bypass existing controls, my faith in the integrity of the city’s workforce remains intact.”

Other new procedures include independent IT “proof reports” that internal auditors use to reconcile accounts; and “quarterly reports to ensure no unauthorized, supplemental vendor, payroll, or pension checks are issued,” according to the release.

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posted by: Seth Poole on March 12, 2019  12:30pm

The litigation and internal witch-hunts are exhausting.

posted by: Dennis Serf on March 12, 2019  12:48pm

Seems the City didn’t have the proper controls and review in process. From an accounting and finance perspective, this is VERY basic stuff. It will be interesting to see the details as to precisely how this happened. The outside auditors would not be responsible for identifying the theft, but should have reviewed the control procedures and identified any deficiencies.

Dennis Serfilippi

posted by: Urn Pendragon on March 12, 2019  12:56pm

It’s a criminal investigation against someone stealing money. Leave the Trumpian terms in the garbage where it belongs. I think it’s time to crack down on these corrupt government employees & officials. They are like leeches, sucking the life blood from hard working people.

Take care & be well.
Urn Pendragon, mayoral candidate

posted by: Somewhere In New Haven on March 12, 2019  2:14pm

A city payroll employee regularly siphoned off money for himself since 2003.  Well if this allegedly happened, how is this person able to put in retirement papers and have accurate pension calculations?  I believe pension reimbursements are based on ones salary over a period of time?  So, the thought of padding his pension wondering how can the calculations be accurate.  I remember (recently) reading in the NHI where another city employees who allegedly misused a CREDIT CARD.  I recall she was escorted from City Hall, arrested, fired, immediately. Today’s article states ............  Last Tuesday officials notified the employee in question — whose title was “management analyst” assigned to payroll — that he would face a pre-termination (aka “Loudermill”) hearing, a required first step for the city to fire someone. That hearing was scheduled to take place this Monday.  But first the employee put in retirement papers on Friday

Where is the JUSTICE in the two?  This lady was not afford not one opportunity.  Found guilty at time of discovery.  This man was NOTIFIED.  He clearly was given the HEADS-UP, whereas the lady (being Black of course) was only given the chance to be humiliated.  It’s just us!!!!

posted by: wendy1 on March 12, 2019  2:15pm

Why were city credit cards given out in the first place???  Not even the mayor should have one.

posted by: CityYankee on March 12, 2019  2:59pm

Dear Somewhere—- do you think there is ever an issue that could NOT be about race?  We don’t even know who this new person is and you’ve already passed judgement.  Can we calm down a little and perhaps hear the facts before speaking?

Having said that,  I wonder why the alleged person’s name is withheld?  Some folks’ names are splashed all over the news at the slightest hint of anything?  Where is the even handed treatment? Where is the fairness?

[AMDC I believe you have raised this question 10 or 20 times before—about why we don’t generally name people who are accused of crimes. We wait until we get their side, if they enter a plea, or if they are convicted. We make exceptions when they are public figures or when there is a compelling immediate public need to know, like when a violent person is on the loose. This person hasn’t even been charged with a crime yet. Please hold onto this response for reference.]

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 12, 2019  3:11pm


Drain the Swamp!!!!

posted by: Patricia Kane on March 12, 2019  4:42pm

@Dennis Serf: Good points about proper controls and review. Assuming this turns out to be true, why did it take so long to discover?
  What else is going on that we don’t know about?????

posted by: Somewhere In New Haven on March 12, 2019  7:16pm

AMDC, I know the the person in payroll; I know the lady from City Hall.  I am correct as stated in my post.  Where is the justice in the two.  One alleged crime was at the tune of $10,00 (-/+); and the other over $100,000.  One was humiliated, escorted and arrested and one was notify of a per-termination hearing.  So not about race but facts.

posted by: Elmmy on March 12, 2019  7:48pm

I don’t know, but something tells me that this is just the beginning of a great deal of employees that are caught doing the same type of thing. And it took an audit to expose them, as opposed to an efficiently functioning system (going back to the JD days and continuing up until now). These are tax dollars that are wasted. All the while the city is claiming it’s not given enough money. That somebody has to come in to save the day. But after that, tomorrow, they’ll continue their wasteful ways. And then they’ll repeat the process. Asking for another bail out. This is irresponsible. It’s a complete failure towards tax payers, students, and businesses of New Haven. And guess what? Those are the main parties that the mayor and city employees are employed to represent. If this was a fair system, those groups would cease their funding.

posted by: new havener on March 12, 2019  8:40pm

vacation cash advances are a bad idea. really bad. any entity that advances cash is ripe for abuse.

why pay someone for work that has not been performed?

posted by: LivingInNewHaven on March 13, 2019  7:37am

I’m wondering why this persons name is being withheld. I read the response ☝️, but I’m not clear. The printing of the name of the woman in city hall with the credit card was immediate. She hadn’t had a trial.  She wasn’t a threat to anyone’s safety. You just described the crime from A to Z, yet no name.  >side eye<
Too much criminalization of black folks before convictions, but protection for others in the same situations. >side eye<

[Paul: The woman in City Hall was never named in the Independent.]

posted by: Afdmedic34 on March 13, 2019  12:28pm

There is lots of talk about the need to know the name of the employee who stolen money. Does it really matter if the person is Black or White Male or Female. A crime has been committed any money that this person is entitled to when they retire should be taken for money owed (like back child support) and jail time.

posted by: fcastle1984 on March 14, 2019  12:30am

At somewhere… while I agree with some of the things you said (pension benefits), I can’t not disagree with the comments about color.

Unless you have inside info, this article made no mention of the perpetrator’s color.

I don’t want to assume, mainly because assuming makes an joke of everyone, but my guess is the credit card girl probably already had a warrant issued for theft. The police simply served it. Now, if payroll guy’s theft was just discovered, they (supervisors at payroll) probably warned him so he knew he would be persona non grata (person not welcome) at work.

As a matter of legal procedure, the prosecuting authority would need a warrant before proceeding because the crime has occurred over a long span (no longer speedy information), therefore requires a warrant affidavit to be completed, and then approved by a judge.

Even aside from that, both parties broke the law. Regardless of color, both will ultimately be arrested and charged. Once the warrant is served, payroll clerk will most likely be in custody and processed. Each party will be given a court date and subsequent trial. That’s how the justice system works.

Regardless of race, both parties will be charged with a crime. Claiming racial bias besmirches the rule of law. Using claims of racial bias to accentuate charging disparities is disingenuous at best.

Instead of the soapbox posturing, let the process go through.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on March 18, 2019  10:37am

This claim by Paul Bass that the NHI refrains from posting the names of city employees who have been [accused] of misdeeds, is garbage.  Mrs. Nicole Jefferson’s name was plastered in the NHI on a daily basis. 

From my understanding, an audit is performed annually.  Do you mean to tell me that this man’s (D. L.) salary steadily increased and it wasn’t noticed for that many years?  The auditors need to be audited.  I’m a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.  Moreover, if this case is investigated properly, other individuals close to this paperwork shuffle will too be found complicity involved.  Which means, far more than the $100,000 was stolen from the taxpayers.

Here’s a clear example for us to question: How can he handle payroll for himself while on vacation?  Also, this huge boost in salary, clearly offsets his longevity; and thus enhances his pension. 

In my view, what he earned by stealing, was his pension.  He gets nothing!!  And if others were found to have been involved, they too get nothing!! 

Here’s another question, who warned him of this finding?  How did they find out?

Why wasn’t he marched out of city hall like the young lady was?  The response to any malfeasance should be handled equally.  In fact, what she was accused of taking, paled in comparison to what he STOLE.  Or to what they STOLE.

@ Yankee,
Somewhere, is absolutely correct.

[Brian: I never claimed that we never publish the names of city officials. We ALWAYS publish the names of city officials involved in controversies, and we work hard to get both sides when we do. Nichole Jefferson was a department head who publicly offered her side in that incident from the start, and did it well. We do the same with immediately publishing the names of higher-ranked cops, versus lower-ranked cops whose side we haven’t received, when they are involved in controversies. These incidents you’re discussing — including the city worker arrested last year for the credit card theft — involve people who are in lower-rank positions. I’m sorry you consider a nuanced policy that aims to protect people’s privacy “garbage.” We’re doing our best to be fair and to serve the public interest. And we certainly do mistakes in trying to do that. And the employee you’re referencing wasn’t marched out of City Hall for a very good reason: He hasn’t been in City Hall since last summer. He had a heart attack and has been out on medical leave. ]