Employees at one California prison—including medical and mental health staff and prison guards—received at least $153,000 in illegal payments due to potential payroll fraud between July 2010 and June 2013, according to a state audit.
Results of the audit were detailed in an August 2014 report by the state controller, who found "a combination of deficiencies in internal control over payroll process" and "poor oversight of payroll transactions" at the California State Prison (CSP)-Sacramento, commonly known as "new Folsom."
Auditors said that at least 10 medical and mental health workers who were short on cash were given more than $48,000 in improper checks for unused leave and vacation time that were falsely processed as overtime.
There was also nearly $65,000 in extra pay to more than 40 CSP- Sacramento guards for supposedly supervising prisoner-workers, though there was no proper documentation to back up those payments.
"In addition," auditors reported, "in 30 payments totaling $5,835, employees supervised only one inmate during the pay period, in violation of collective bargaining agreements and state policy."
Prison staff were also given uniform allowances far exceeding the amount authorized, and other employees also received holiday pay in months when there were no holidays.
"Considering that our review was performed only on limited selections, we are concerned that the number of misstatements in holiday credit balances may be even higher," auditors said.
Because auditors found unauthorized or improper payments in as much as 88% of the small number of files they examined, they recommended that California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation conducts full internal reviews of its payroll systems for the last three years.
Auditors also reported poor financial management at the California Department of State Hospitals' Patton psychiatric facility in San Bernardino. The hospital, according to auditors, disclosed $900,000 in fraudulent payments to employees claiming false work and vacation time between 2007 and 2011.
The audits were among 14 financial reviews of various state agencies in 2014, prompted by the discovery of payroll abuses at California's parks department in 2012.
Sources: "Payroll Process Review for July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2013: California State Prison-Sacramento and California Correctional Health Services, " California State Controller, August 2014, www.sco.ca.gov; Los Angeles Times
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