Many of us would love to get paid for not working, but because of our moral compass, we refrain from taking advantage of our employers by running scams or fudging paperwork in order to take home money that we haven’t earned.
Some would argue that those who are bad at their jobs get paid to do nothing. Still, incompetence is not the same as extreme greed, which society’s workplaces seem to be getting more and more familiar with.
It seems as though there are far too many cases of completely competent and well-paid employees who know better refusing to do their job properly because they’re greedy, lazy, and/or corrupt.
Here are five stories of corrupt professionals who were too greedy for their own good.
1. Irvin Mayfield
Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield founded the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) and has had the privilege of touring the world. With the decrease of fans purchasing his music due to the ability to download it for free, however, Mayfield wasn’t making as much money as he would have liked. Luckily, in 2012, Mayfield was hired by then-Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin to act as chairman of the city’s public library system.
And you may be wondering how Nagin deemed a trumpeter qualified to run a public library. Apparently, they’re friends and, based on Nagin’s recent conviction of bribery and fraud, it doesn’t seem out of character for him to hire Mayfield solely based on friendship.
Shortly after appointment to chairman of the public library, Mayfield convinced the rest of the board members to change the fundraising mission statement from “for the benefit of the New Orleans Public Library” to “for literacy and community organizations”.
While fielding donations from the community that citizens no doubt intended for the library, Mayfield directed the majority of those funds – $666,000 in 2012 and a further $197,000 in 2013 – to NOJO, the organization from which he rakes in $148,050 a year of his own.
An investigation into Mayfield by the FBI is still ongoing. Needless to say, Mayfield has stepped down from his position as chairman of the New Orleans Public Library, and the NOJO Board of Directors has also agreed to give back any and all funds received from the public library.
2. Cristina Williamson
A police detective in Coral Springs decided, after reevaluating her career choices, that $76,025 a year was not enough to make putting her butt on the line for her job worth it. Cristina Williamson had spent years working as a detective and hunting down bad guys but came to the conclusion in 2011 that she wasn’t up for it anymore.
But, instead of doing the logical thing and searching for a new job that met her needs both financially and mentally, she kept her job with the police department and decided to spend her paid hours decorating her office with inspiration quotes.
Williamson was assigned five cases by her boss, but instead of properly working through them, she closed out each one immediately, marking them as complete, so that she wouldn’t be required to do any work.
One of the cases assigned to Williamson involved the burglary of a salon that the detective dropped without even obtaining one victim statement. Due to this carelessness, the police department began investigating. The case was assigned to another detective who actually reached out to one of the victims of the burglary and found out that they did want to press charges against the thief – obviously, this information was not included in Williamson’s report of the case since she didn’t actually do any investigating.
Williamson was consequently fired from her job and has since pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of falsifying a public record.
3. Michael Veit
Michael Veit worked as the Chief Procurement Officer for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) for 35 years. Over the course of his employment with the AHCCCS, the inspector general of the organization began noticing some discrepancies in the books and hired an investigator to get to the bottom of it.
Throughout the investigation, $1.6 million worth of checks was discovered in one of Veit’s briefcases. Another $2.7 million in cash and other assets was found in his home during a raid later that same week. It turns out Veit had been depositing checks that were made payable to AHCCCS into a dummy bank account from which he withdrew the cash and distributed it among family members. Investigators uncovered $200,000 in cash at Veit’s son’s home and another $17,000 in his wife’s purse.
Veit faces more than 40 felony charges to which he has pled not guilty. The list of crimes Veit has been charged with include: conspiracy, money laundering, trafficking in stolen property, theft, and fraudulent schemes. Naturally, Veit has been fired from the AHCCCS.
4. US Census Bureau Fraudsters
A number of employees, 40 to be exact, at the US Census Bureau’s Hiring and Employment Check Office have been accused of falsifying timesheets in order to get paid for time that they actually hadn’t worked.
More than half of the entire staff had charged taxpayers more than $1 million for time not worked, misuse of their job positions to hire friends, and repeated attempts to intimidate whistleblowers from coming forward during the investigation. One employee reportedly fudged 1,277 hours on their timesheet – a total of 160 workdays – costing the government roughly $64,000 in unearned compensation.
One of the employees accused of falsifying timesheets announced to colleagues that he intended to uncover the whistleblower’s identity and get even, referring to the whistleblower as a “rat”, a “snitch”, and a “coward”.
Even with the investigation’s preliminary findings earlier this year, the US Attorney’s Office has declined to press charges and each of the accused is still employed by the US Census Bureau.
5. John T. O'Brien
John T. O’Brien, owner of a plumbing company in Lyndhurst, New Orleans, was commissioned to complete a project in a housing cooperative by a local company. O’Brien was provided with $1.43 million to purchase the necessary materials for the project and signed a contract stating that O’Brien would keep the materials in a separate storage unit so that they didn’t get mixed up with supplies purchased by his plumbing company for unrelated projects.
Instead of using the allotted funds to acquire all of the necessary supplies, O’Brien only purchased a portion of what was needed, leaving a total of $648,337 which the plumber used to purchase personal items. In 2013, he fraudulently claimed to have purchased all the supplies for the project.
O’Brien has since been charged with one count each of theft by deception, theft by failure to make disposition of property received, and misapplication of entrusted property.
6. BioDiagnostic Laboratories Bribers
In 2006, BioDiagnostic Laboratories in New Jersey came up with a way to generate a much larger profit margin for its employees. The laboratory technologists at BDL began bribing local doctors to send patients – even healthy ones – to their laboratory to generate more lab business and bring in a much larger amount of money.
The phlebotomists successfully bribed at least 26 doctors to refer patients’ blood specimens to their laboratory in exchange for thousands of dollars a month. Because of this, BioDiagnostic Laboratories ended up generating more than $100 million from Medicare and private insurance companies between 2006 and 2013.
Thirteen of the 26 physicians involved in the scam have been doled out jail sentences that range from 12 to 63 months for accepting bribes from a discredited medical laboratory company. Along with those 13 jail sentences, one physician received 10 months of house arrest, two others were sentenced to 12 months’ probation, and the other six are currently awaiting sentencing.
7. Cleveland Firefighters
Thirteen firefighters from a fire department in Cleveland, Ohio decided in 2008 that their firefighter salaries just weren’t cutting it anymore. The men came up with a plan to pay coworkers $200 in cash for every eight hours of a 24-hour shift that they covered so that the other firefighters could spend those hours working other jobs while still receiving wages and benefits for the shifts at the fire department that they weren’t working. The firefighters who agreed to work these eight-hour stints ended up pulling in an extra tax-free $16,000 a year.
One of the men paid to have part of his shifts worked owned a construction company that was regularly awarded large contracts with the city while another raked in millions of dollars as one of the top real estate agents in the country. These men were able to make a ridiculous amount of money from their side jobs, receive wages and benefits from their jobs with the fire department, and still receive praise and recognition for protecting the city.
While 12 of the men ended up selling about 2,000 hours of their shifts – that’s roughly one year of work – one employee was bold enough to illegally pay coworkers to cover about 8,500 hours of his job.
The 13 firefighters have been suspended from the fire department and each faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted of felony theft-in-office.
It’s unfortunate that people are able to take advantage of others for their own benefit, but it’s something that happens more than it should. Workplace corruption has become a growing problem in our society as we see more and more people getting charged with illegal and fraudulent activity.
While corruption can consist of a number of activities, including nepotism, unequal application of rules, and different forms of favoritism, the employees listed here were corrupted by their love of money.
Know any other stories about professionals who were corrupted by greed? Let us know in the comments section below!