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Government fraud costs Maryland taxpayers

According to a federal investigation, 60 government workers lied on time sheets over the last three years. It cost taxpayers an estimated $1 million, and the workers were reportedly gambling or traveling during times when they claimed to have been working. The employees worked at more than a dozen federal agencies, and a woman who worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a time sheet manager plead guilty to fraud in May 2015.

She accepted $15,000 in salary for hours that she never worked and was sentenced to jail and substance abuse counseling. An official who worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was convicted of playing golf and gambling while he was supposed to be at work. A media investigation revealed that workers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had lied about their attendance 17 times since 2012.

According to the EPA Inspector General, the problem could have been stopped with proper oversight and due diligence. One of the investigators said that most government workers are honest and that tips from other workers are needed to control the problem. In the time sheet manager's case, a tip brought her fraudulent activities to light and led to an investigation.

Those who are convicted of this type of fraud may wish to talk to a lawyer who may be able to create a defense strategy that could allow a defendant to avoid some or all penalties that could otherwise be imposed, such as jail time or a fine. An argument could also be made that all information placed on a time sheet was accurate to the knowledge of the defendant or that the defendant was owed personal hours to use at his or her discretion.

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