BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Public workers who commit timecard fraud may soon be liable for the money they've stolen.
A proposal from Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn Cunha which would allow local governments to recoup money effectively taken from taxpayers went before the State House Judiciary Committee Thursday, the State House News Service reports. The proposal would allow state, county, city, and town governments to file suit against employees who claimed hours they didn't work and were caught after the fact.
IG Cunha said the vast majority of public workers are honest, but those who commit timecard fraud, abuse sick time, or falsify vacation and sick leave "cost the state, cities, and towns millions of public dollars." Governments could seek restitution for up to three times the amount of the fraudulent wages.
Because of the state's false claims act, local governments cannot take legal action against those employees who commit timecard fraud, and the IG cited several cases where municipalities were unable to get their money back. As it stands in the commonwealth, governments can only seek restitution if someone has been criminally charged with fraud.
The IG equated the situation to a legal loophole—similar to one recently closed for police.
The ongoing State Police and Boston Police time card fraud scams prompted reforms for law enforcement as part of a recent police reform bill. But for other public sector employees, cities and towns' hands are tied in many cases. IG Cunha's proposal would free them up to pursue the taxpayer money in civil court.
WBZ's Jim Mackay (@JimMacKayOnAir) reports: