Two city employees accused of embezzling in four days

Two city employees accused of embezzling in four days

Acting City Manager Bruce Johnson has ordered staff to take a hard look at internal policies designed to prevent financial fraud after two municipal employees were arrested on separate embezzlement charges in a four-day span.

Although no system of checks and balances can prevent every illegal act, we pledge to make sure that our system contains all known best practices, Johnson wrote in a memo distributed to all municipal workers after police arrested Jeffrey Power, a human resources department employee, on a single felony charge of embezzlement Friday. 

Authorities allege Power, 44, of Springfield, padded his paycheck by fraudulently reporting unearned overtime to the citys human resources department and may have been doing it for more than a year. Police began investigating Power, an 11-year city employee, after receiving a tip on August 10. 

Just days after Powers arrest, officials announced a second city employee, Addo Lomotey, 48, of Alexandria, had been charged with a single count of felony embezzlement. 

Police say Lomotey, arrested Tuesday, stole money from the cash register at Chinquapin Recreation Center while working the front desk. City officials alerted police to the alleged theft after a citizen tipped off recreation staff, said Tony Castrilli, city spokesman.  

A four-year city employee, Lomotey was only recently put into a position to man the cash register unsupervised, said Jody Donaldson, police department spokesman. 

Both have been placed on unpaid leave pending the investigations and their subsequent trials in general district court.     
Authorities are mum on how much money either man allegedly misappropriated from municipal coffers. Since both remain ongoing investigations and more charges may be forthcoming, officials have not released the sum of money missing.
Power, who was in Alexandria General District Court Wednesday morning for an advisement hearing, declined to comment on his charges. He will return to court on September 14. 

In the wake of his arrest, officials said they were overhauling the human resources departments overtime approval policy. The recreation, parks and cultural activities department likewise is reviewing its cash handling policies and procedures, according to officials. 

In addition, Johnson has directed Alexandrias acting Chief Financial Officer Laura Triggs to review practices at the citys internal audit office. Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks also will reexamine the offices size, structure and return with potential recommendations to strengthen the departments role. 

They expect to present city council with a status update by early October, according to the memo. 

Johnson took a hard line against employee embezzlement in the document. 

Almost all City employees perform their public duties admirably and honorably, he wrote. But for those very few employees who knowingly and willfully break the law in any fashion for personal gain, the City will continue to request that the Police and Commonwealths Attorney charge and prosecute that person to the full extent of the law.
Power and Lomotey arent the first city employees charged with embezzlement in recent years. Police arrested William Fell in 2009 after he stole more than $170,000 in loose change from parking meters while emptying and repairing them. 

A DASH employee was charged with embezzling roughly $30,000 from the Old Town Transit Shop after admitting the theft in her letter of resignation in 2010.