Two former Jackson Parish Hospital employees mismanaged payments for accrued time off and payroll deductions, awarding themselves more than $120,000 in unearned pay and benefits, according to an audit report issued Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office.
Former hospital employees Elizabeth Cheatwood and Vickie Booker received a combined $89,960 in excessive payments for accrued time off and a combined $33,197 of supplemental health insurance policies and uniforms offered through the hospital for which they did not pay. Ms. Cheatwood also received a stipend for health insurance in the amount of $26,072 to which she was not entitled.
Ms. Cheatwood was terminated on December 5, 2014, and Ms. Booker was terminated on December 8, 2014.
According to the audit report, a change in the hospital’s accounting and payroll systems’ software in December 2008 led Ms. Cheatwood, a human resource employee, and Ms. Booker, an accounts payable clerk, to discover they could be paid for their accrued time off without deducting the hours from their accrued time off balances.
At the time of termination, Ms. Cheatwood had a negative balance of almost 1900 hours of accrued time off, and Ms. Booker had a negative balance of nearly 2500 hours. At least three other employees received accrued time off payouts without deductions being made to their accounts. Hospital policy allows employees to receive cash for up to 10 days of accrued time off when an employee is unable to schedule a vacation, but the corresponding hours must be deducted from the employee’s balance.
Because Ms. Cheatwood worked in human resources and Ms. Booker was in accounts payable, they were able to misuse the payroll system, the report said. David Sanders, the hospital’s chief financial officer, stated in the report, “that all hospital checks are required to have two signatures to be valid and that
Ms. Cheatwood had control over three signature stamps used to process the payroll checks.” Ms. Booker had “blank payroll checks in her office and had the authority to print checks at her desk,” the report said.
In addition, the audit noted, Ms. Cheatwood and Ms. Booker made numerous adjustments to their individual payroll deductions and did not reimburse the hospital for supplemental insurance policies and uniforms they received.
The hospital did not reconcile its health and supplemental insurance invoices or other employee benefits to payroll deductions to ensure it received proper reimbursement. As a result, the hospital paid $200,997 for employee benefits that were not reimbursed because of undetected errors.
The report also indicates “that from January 2012 to December 2014, the hospital collected $121,968 in cash that was never deposited.” Ms. Booker stated that she took “$200 to $300 per week” from hospital collections and deposited it to her bank account or spent it. She denied taking the entire $121,968.
On March 13, 2015, state police arrested three former Jackson Parish Hospital employees and the spouse of one of the former employees, the report said. A copy of this report has been delivered to the Attorney General for the State of Louisiana.