Time Theft

Bremerton Public Works officials believe one of their employees, Ann Lyn Beahm, stole from the city by falsifying time sheets. Her lawyer, however, argues that charging her with a felony is a bit much, even if all the accusations were true, which he says is not the case.

Sunday’s story came primarily from the Bremerton Police’s probable cause statement and attorney Clayton Longacre. Based on the police statement, Beahm’s fellow employees started keeping records of Beahm’s attendance. She does payroll for the city as well as other office duties. During a six-month period they wrote her hours on a calendar.

I don’t recall hearing of an employer taking an employee to criminal court over work time. For embezzlement they’ll do it, often to their detriment. While working for The Columbian I wrote how some employers were hiring investigators to catch people in the act of sneaking funds away from companies, then getting judgments in civil court. That way the employer gets the money back.

I checked with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and didn’t find a prosecution vs. settlement statistic specific to payroll abuse, but companies in all industries except manufacturing tend to take fraud cases to criminal court more than half the time. Payroll crime accounts for 17.8 percent of the fraud committed in small businesses and 21 percent of the fraud committed in government agencies. The dollar amounts, however, are generally smaller than in other kinds of fraud. The median payroll fraud is about $50,000.

None of the ACFE information has anything specific to do with Beahm’s case. Bremerton is accusing her of stealing about $3,800. Again it’s worth noting that she’s fighting the charges rather than settling. She said she did much of her work at home and her attorney said some of the documentation her fellow employees provided was not accurate.

Nonetheless, a couple of our readers are rushing to convict her, based on the comments I’m seeing on the story. Others are arguing, however, that what she was accused of doing is common. They’re not saying it’s right, mind you, but common.

I read comments on another blog referencing this story in which people were arguing that employers more often get employees work for free, but no one ever prosecutes them criminally for getting more work than they’re paying for.

2 thoughts on “Time Theft

  1. This has been a witch hunt! A friend of mine works in the same department and he says before they laid Ann off the individuals who were spying on her took half hour breaks and 1 1/2 hour lunches, plus they left early without using their leave. Now that Ann is gone they feel they have to be more careful because they might be being watched too. What a crock!

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