OLYMPIA – A 2009 Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Washington State Patrol investigation into theft by a former WSDOT employee has resulted in criminal charges and a nine-month sentence in the Pierce County jail.
Rachel Taylor was convicted on three counts of theft and formally sentenced after receiving more than $74,000 in unearned overtime compensation from 2007 to 2009.
"WSDOT employees care deeply about how taxpayer dollars are managed, “said WSDOT Chief of Staff Steve Reinmuth. "We investigated the missing funds, sued to recover the money, and worked with the Washington State Patrol, the Attorney General’s Office and the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney to make sure that the public’s trust is preserved.”
WSDOT sued Taylor in Thurston County Superior Court before the criminal charges were filed in Pierce County. In October, before pleading guilty to the criminal charges, Taylor agreed to a judgment in the civil lawsuit to repay the state more than $74,000 plus interest, investigation costs and attorney fees.
WSDOT managers flagged the unearned overtime during a routine review of overtime accrual reports in 2009. WSDOT immediately launched an internal investigation involving the agency’s independent internal audit division.
During an internal investigation, Taylor admitted that from 2007-2009 she had adjusted her work time in the WSDOT timekeeping system for hours that she never worked, resulting in her receiving more than $74,000 in unearned state pay and benefits.
The internal investigation also revealed some questionable charges on a state office purchasing account. WSDOT referred the case to the Washington State Patrol, which worked with the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate potential criminal charges.
As a result of this case, WSDOT further improved its procedures for reviewing access rights to the labor computer system. WSDOT also strengthened its payroll controls by upgrading labor system security features so that employees are unable to enter or adjust personal payroll hours.
Taylor resigned in 2009 in lieu of termination from state employment. She worked as a secretary in one of WSDOT’s Pierce County construction offices. One of her responsibilities included entering the office’s timesheets into WSDOT’s timekeeping system