Special Audit Confirms Payroll Tampering
Columbus – A human resources manager at the Columbiana County Engineer’s office tinkered with her husband’s timesheets to increase his pay by $5,200, according to a special audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“In the case of this couple, the vow to take each other “for richer” shouldn’t make the taxpayers poorer,” Auditor Yost said. “The people of Columbiana County shelled out money for hours that were never worked, and they should be repaid immediately.”
In August 2012, Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson contacted the Auditor of State’s office requesting a review of a possible theft of funds by Human Resources Manager and Chief Financial Officer Christina Phillips. Phillips made false entries into the office’s payroll system to reflect a higher amount of hours worked by her husband, Jordan Phillips, a temporary, part-time employee. The special audit was initiated by the Auditor of State’s office on September 5, 2012 and reviewed records for the period of January 1, 2009 through August 17, 2012.
Mrs. Phillips was responsible for payroll reporting and was the payroll clerk for the engineer’s water and sewer department. In this capacity, she had access to her husband’s payroll information and had the ability to change time clock punches. System audit trail reports found 71 improper adjustments to Mr. Phillips’ timesheet records. Of those adjustments, there were 52 occasions where Mrs. Phillips entered a time in and time out for her husband without evidence that he actually worked the hours. Auditors also identified 19 instances where Mrs. Phillips modified her husband’s hours and those records did not match the actual time recorded by his time clock punches. These adjustments resulted in increases of 394.25 regular hours and five overtime hours that added $5,273 to Mr. Phillips’ compensation.
A finding for recovery in the amount of $5,273 was issued against Christina Phillips and Jordan Phillips. When confronted by the county engineer, Mrs. Phillips denied any wrongdoing, but offered restitution and later resigned from her position.
A full copy of this special audit, including specifics on the findings for recovery, may be accessed online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,700 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.