Talk about schooling yourself.
A D.C. Public Schools employee who worked as a warehouse assistant in the DCPS mailroom redirected $6,414.78 to himself by inserting his name on six checks meant for the school system, according to a recent settlement agreement published by the District’s ethics board. The surreptitious stealing spanned more than two months, from Nov. 17, 2017 until Jan. 24, 2018.
In two cases, the employee fraudulently increased the amounts on the checks—from $2.70 to $1,000, and from $50 to $800. In another instance that took place in December, he appeared to write “Christmas gift” on the memo line of the check.
Originally, all six checks were made payable to the D.C. Treasurer to satisfy debts owed to DCPS. They ranged in value from $2.70 to $3,185.36, the settlement shows. The employee deposited them into his BB&T bank account mostly through mobile deposits, but in one case he did so in person at a BB&T branch in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Until he got caught.
Although the employee’s first name is partially redacted from his settlement with the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, City Paper has confirmed his identity as Paul Taylor. The District hired Taylor in September 2016, public records show. As of last December, he made $42,111 in salary, and as of March he made $43,374.
Taylor said “he committed these fraudulent transactions to help pay for his daughter’s expenses as well as catch up on outstanding bills,” per the settlement. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
BEGA found that Taylor committed 12 violations of the District Code of Conduct by abusing public office for private gain and breaking his duty not to use government property for unauthorized purposes. He has agreed to pay $6,000 in fines to the Office of Government Ethics. $1,335.58 is to come from his unpaid annual leave, and the remaining $4,664.42 is to come from 12 monthly payments beginning in May.
The settlement notes that Taylor may face additional “civil and/or criminal penalties by other government agencies.” It also says that if he fails to adhere to the agreement, which constitutes “an admission of wrongdoing [and] various factual admissions,” BEGA could slam him with a $5,000 fine per ethics violation following a potential “open and adversarial hearing.”
Taylor is currently on administrative leave from DCPS while the school system conducts an internal review. In a statement, DCPS says it can’t comment on personnel matters, but “takes any any allegations of fraud seriously.”
Hopefully he learned his lesson.