Politics & Government

3 workers out, 3 penalized at Liquor Control Board over alleged timecard fraud

The Liquor Control Board told state auditors three of its employees are out of a job and three more faced discipline after the board discovered fraud in its payroll system.

The board reported the problems to State Auditor Troy Kelley’s office, whose report says four information technology specialists, including two supervisors, claimed $32,500 in pay for time they didn’t work.

Kelley’s office investigated and referred the case to the Thurston County prosecutor.

The liquor board regulates Washington’s alcohol and marijuana sales.

The internal investigation started in May 2013 after complaints that IT employees weren’t available to help and were missing training meetings.

Reliable evidence was only available dating to August 2012, according to the audit, but those records showed the employees weren’t always in the office when they had clocked in. They couldn’t prove they were working remotely, according to the audit.

Auditors recommended clearer policies on telecommuting and better oversight of those who do work from home. They called for trying to recover the money as well as $4,900 in investigation costs.

The liquor control board acknowledged “appropriate internal controls could have prevented the estimated loss to the state,” and said it has changed its policies.

All four employees faced consequences. One of the two higher-ranking employees resigned and the other was fired, the board said. Of the other two, one was demoted and one received a pay reduction.

In addition, “the Information Technology Director was forced to resign while the investigation was being conducted and the Administrative Assistant, whose duty it was to ensure payroll was correct, received a reduction in pay,” the board said in its response to the audit.