RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) –An anonymous tip to Richmond’s auditor is what sparked a two week investigation into former employee Sharon Judkins.
Judkins used to oversee the city’s finance department, and her last day was Friday, May 16.
Auditor Umesh Dalal says this latest investigation is just another example of why it’s so important for city workers to have a mechanism in place to report suspected abuse, fraud and waste.
Fraud Squad posters are plastered around City Hall. That’s a program created on behalf of Richmond citizens and government employees in order to help make the government more accountable through the prevention and investigation of suspected waste, fraud and abuse.
Dalal says since its inception in 2010 the Fraud Squad has saved the city millions of dollars. He says since then, they’ve averaged about 100 complaints per year.
Workers remain anonymous when they report suspected wrongdoing. They can do so by filing a report on www.richmondfraudsquad.org or by calling 804-646-5694.
City workers who lead the auditor’s office to a case of misconduct which results in savings by the city could receive an award. The person could take home a reward that equals ten percent of the money recovered or saved, up to $5,000 dollars.
“Every time we stop fraud, waste and abuse there is a benefit the city gets,” Dalal explained.
In the case of Sharon Judkins, Dalal says he got a tip that an agreement between her and the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, Byron Marshall could have led to a “substantial loss” to the city.
His report findings show Judkins was about to rack up nearly $408,000 in benefits because Marshall approved giving her 800 plus hours of unused sick time that she accrued during a previous employment stint she completed with the city.
Marshall has since taken those hours away and amended her severance package. The city auditor tells us he uncovered the information about Judkins during an investigation that lasted a few weeks.
Without divulging more, he also told CBS 6 News said he uncovered other troubling information about the Judkins case that he didn’t include in his latest report.
He says the information was better suited to share with the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Mike Herring.
Herring is now reviewing the Judkins case at Mayor Dwight Jones’ request to determine if there was any criminal wrongdoing. Herring believes his investigation will take several weeks.
In the meantime, Dalal says they’ll continue to count on workers in City Hall to be their eyes and ears.
“All I’m going to say to the people of Richmond is that we need help. The more help we get, the more money we save. “
We were unable to reach Judkins again today for comment. We also asked to speak with Mayor Jones and CAO Byron Marshall. We were told it was a personnel matter under review and they want to let the review run its course.
Commonwealth Attorney Mike Herring says he will meet with Dalal on Wednesday to discuss the case. He says from there his investigation could take several weeks.
Mayor Jones plans to announce Judkins’ replacement over the finance department at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
Stay with CBS 6 News for the latest on this developing story.