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HOLMBERG: Sick leave scandal could choke Richmond’s chief leader

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Richmond mayor Dwight Jones guides the city. Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Bryon Marshall runs it.

That’s why he makes about $50,000 a year more than the mayor - $178,000 base salary compared with the mayor’s $125,000.

Marshall’s second-in-command, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer  Sharon Judkins, also made more than the mayor - about $165,000 – at least  until she stepped down suddenly last Friday.

In the winter we reported Judkins refused to make a series of changes recommended by the city auditor to save money and smooth operations in the city’s new information technology system.

As she prepared to leave, according to City Auditor Umesh Dalal,  her lone boss, CAO Marshall, signed off on a separation plan that would have given her three full years of serving as a top official, instead of the two years and two months she had under her belt.

The three years of service is a magic number. It means her retirement – for life - would be based on her compensation as a top official making some $165,000 a year, instead of a much smaller sum.

Judkins, a professional friend of Marshall’s who apparently got the job here on his recommendation, had worked for the city in much- lower positions from the early 80s to 2000. She left the city for 12 years, working in California.

From the mayor’s press release about her appointment in March of 2012:

“Prior to returning to the City of Richmond to accept the DCAO position, she served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Santa Clara Valley Water District in San Jose, CA. As a key executive for the second largest special district in California, she directed the operations of Budget and Financial Planning; Human Resources and Labor Relations; Information Management; Corporate Business Services, including Contract Administration and Procurement; Fleet Services; and the Ethics and Equal Opportunity programs. Serving as a member of the district’s leadership team for approximately eight years, in two separate terms, she also served as Interim CEO and Deputy Administrative Officer where she provided leadership for the Financial and Corporate Services Division and the Office of Emergency Services.

Judkins earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History/Political Science from Virginia Union University and a Master of Arts in Human Resources Development with a focus on Organizational Development from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.”

Auditor Dalal wrote that Judkins would reach that full three-year-threshold by being given  807 hours of unused sick leave from when she worked for the city that last time – 15 years ago. That old sick leave would’ve given her $64,562, he wrote.

He also found 147 hours of extra, unearned vacation time that Judkin’s Human Resources department had said she was due, giving her an additional  $11,766.

Those extra hours of vacation and sick leave bumped her up to the magic three years, meaning she would get an extra $16,593 per year for life.

Estimating she lives another 20 years would mean this total deal would’ve been worth nearly $410,000, Dalal wrote in a report released Monday.

But as his report was being researched, apparently, Judkin’s departure negotiations fell apart.

Marshall wrote in a response Monday that calculating the additional vacation time was indeed in error.

He said the concept of using that much saved sick time “as a means of maximizing a retirement annuity based on services rendered” initially appeared to be proper. “My decision was based upon what turned out to be flawed advice provided to me at the time by human resource professionals,” he wrote in a statement.

Marshall said this was simply a case of assisting a public servant in transitioning from employment, something a quality city does for the people who do the work.

Marshall also wrote the separation process was interrupted by Judkin’s unspecified illness and “pressing demands on the CAO’s time (e.g. Budget negotiations, Shockoe Revitalization efforts, etc.”

The inference in his response is the flaws in the separation agreement would’ve been spotted and stopped without the oversight by the city auditor. Therefore, nothing improper actually occurred.

So now, Judkins will get a lower retirement package and a standard severance - basically three  months of salary, is my understanding.

The auditor’s allegations – in essence, fraud – have been forwarded to the  Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring for examination.

Tammy Hawley, the mayor’s press secretary, said the mayor supports that decision and takes the allegations seriously.

This is pretty much a shocker . . . not only that this kind of separation agreement could’ve been designed, but it apparently happened after the auditor had already been looking into Judkin’s office and was on high alert.

It also comes as the mayor’s legacy development plan – building a ballpark and slavery museum in Shockoe Bottom while completely redeveloping the old ballpark area – remains under siege and is lurching toward a controversial vote.

Can Marshall survive this scandal?

And can the mayor’s ballpark proposal survive without Marshall?

Stay tuned . . .



  • Becky

    Richmond is run on Friends with Benefits “Deals”.
    It’s not Corruption, because they have Carte Blanche Say.
    Tax Payers; Just Shut Up and PAY!
    No fouls, no penalties, no charges, ever, for anything..
    Must be PC:
    Infested HR, DSS, Juvenile Justice Center, RMA,
    Finance Department, RRHA, Public Works, Police
    Departments, Friends & Family Jails, RPS,
    School Board, City’s’ Master Plan, City Council’s
    Conflicts of Interests, “Deals for Donors”, etc., etc.
    Don’t expect them to be Responsible; they Aren’t.
    It’s “FREE”. It’s PC!

  • David

    manalishi and Becky. What an embarrassment to wtvr.com. Add Athynz and you have a full house.

    • Becky

      Care to MAN UP, STAND UP, and GROW UP to PUT Forth your defence of Perfectly Correct Corruption, Collusion and Fraud of $400,000 of Tax Dollars for friends getting Big Benefits “Deals”,
      DAVID? Can’t wait for your justifications and cost analysis.

      • athynz

        Becky you just asked the impossible of the resident troll. He won’t man up, grow up, or make any sort of comment on the story itself. I suspect he lacks the intelligence to do so but in a twisted way to gain some sort of recognition or ego stroking criticizes others who comment here. I was amused at first but now it’s just old and played out. I’m done feeding the troll.

      • David

        Poor Petie. He believes in trolls and magic pumpkins. He is a serial purveyor of witless comments to satisfy his hunger for recognition. Petie is in the manalishi, Becky family. Put them all in a bag and you have hot air and the essence of stupidity.

  • Joe

    It would be impossible for ANY executive to survive this…I will be amazed if he does. Frankly, I’m amazed that he hasn’t been asked to resign based on his past failures…. Wow, and the sage continues.

  • A Brown

    not everyone that works for the city is corrupt. The honest ones may be the in the minority but they are their & they suffer everyday trying to do the right thing in that corrupt environment.

  • Three Strikes

    A Brown is correct. There are far more good people working for the City than the Jones and Marshall machine. Good people are scared to death to speak against the Mayor and Marshall on anything. I’ve heard the Mayor even re categorized several staffers so they could be dismissed if they spoke against anything Boss Jones says or does. Look at the people they have fired or position unfilled under these two.

    One City? One City under Jones is more like it.

  • B Addy

    City government has been a laughing stock since the mid to late 70’s . It is quite apparent although politically incorrect to discuss what the obvious problem is. Political correctness will be the demise of this once great nation.

  • athynz

    Anyone know why she left California? Was this job in Richmond that much better than what she had or did she screw up there as well? It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the stadium plans. As it is there is one less corrupt official being paid by the city.

  • Karen

    I used to be proud to say I was from Richmond, VA but it has become such a joke that I’m embarrassed to even say I live in the suburbs. What a shame it has come to this! It’s self- destructing right in front of us.

  • keith

    All Judkin’s activities should be reviewed. She took away flex time, telecommuting, salary money from several white people in Finance, denied travel reimbursements for needed training to keep CPA licensure and denied travel for professional development for all but a few senior staff.

  • me

    Holmberg, Really? When has any or all of the combined Scandals,
    ever touched the “Can’t Touch Dis!’ Teflon Dons?

  • jskillz98

    Let’s be clear. She didn’t just do that for white people let’s no take it racial. When she headed DIT she was equally nasty. But during this downtime for her I am asking anyone who may have worked for her to forgive her. We can’t just pile on. Let God handle it. The truth always shows up and it’s always the same.

    Praying for our “leaders”

Comments are closed.