Former City of Richmond Deputy Chief Administrative Officer over Finance and Administration (DCAO) Sharon Judkins may have received special treatment allowing her more than $400,000 in additional benefits, according to a report released by the Officer of the Inspector General (OIG) on Thursday.
Judkins’ last day as a city employee was on Friday; her job is now posted on the city’s Human Resources webpage.
City Auditor and Inspector General Umesh Dalal issued a report to Mayor Dwight Jones alleging that an additional 807.7 hours of sick time Judkins was granted before her last day violated the city’s Code of Ethics.
“The OIG received a complaint from an anonymous source that the DCAO’s sick leave exceeding 800 hours that were accrued 12 years ago were ‘suspiciously restored at a suspicious time,’’’ Dalal wrote in the report.
According to the OIG, Judkins had been employed with the city for 19 years, through July 2000, in another administrative capacity, during which she accrued 807.7 hours of unused sick leave. Administrative Regulation 4.9 states that there is no payout for unused sick leave at the time of an employee’s separation from city employment.
On March 26, 2012, more than a decade after leaving that position, Judkins was reinstated as a City of Richmond employee in her role as DCAO.
Dalal’s report says that while the Richmond Retirement System converts 50 percent of an employee’s unused sick leave to creditable service, only an employee’s final period of employment is considered.
“According to the Deputy Director at RRS, they have never included an unused sick leave balance from a prior period of employment in addition to the unused sick leave balance from the current period of employment in a pension calculation,” Dalal wrote.
In Judkins’ job offer letter dated Feb. 17, 2012, Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall wrote, in part, “Based on your prior nineteen (19) years of service with the City, you will be granted vacation leave accrual at the higher rate of two-hundred (200) hours per year.”
Dalal says Judkins’ sick leave began to accrue at the rate of 12 days per year, or 3.7 hours per pay period, which is consistent among all executive city employees; no additional sick leave was discussed at the time she was hired.
However, in an addendum to the offer letter written more than two years later on April 29, 2014, Marshall wrote, in part, “Based on your prior nineteen (19) years of service with the City, your sick leave balance at the time of your separation from the City in July 2000 was noted as 807.70 hours.”
Judkins was granted those additional hours in her new position as DCAO on April 29. Two days later, on May 1, she began extended sick leave in accordance with the Family Medical Leave Act.
The OIG report states that Director of Human Resources Johnny McLean acknowledged there is no precedence where unused sick leave during prior service had been restored.
Marshall told Dalal that he had been contemplating Judkins’ future as a city employee two months ago, and that he restored her unused sick leave to allow her to receive retirement benefits at a higher rate. Marshall says he agreed to restore the leave based on the advice of Deputy Directors of Human Resources Lorraine Adeeb and Fred Rosen, who reported to Judkins.
“[Marshall’s] discussion with the two Deputy Directors of Human Resources subsequent to the beginning of this investigation revealed that both deputies had different interpretations regarding the restoration of sick leave earned during prior service,” Dalal wrote.
Dalal’s investigation determined that Judkins was granted an additional 147.2 hours of vacation time, valued at $11,766, on Feb. 28, 2014, the mistake of an “untrained Finance Department employee who was not supervised appropriately.”
Dalal noted in his report to Mayor Jones that this discrepancy, along with the restoration of Judkins’ sick leave could cost the city $408,200. He says the OIG did not review the situation for criminal liability; though no charges have been placed at this time, Dalal recommended the Mayor’s Office seek the help of the Commonwealth Attorney.
“Too soon to predict whether the matter will go to a grand jury,” Commonwealth Attorney Michael Herring told ABC 8News Anchor/Investigative Reporter Kerri O’Brien in an email.
Mayor Jones’ Press Secretary Tammy Hawley told O’Brien, “The auditor’s findings raise very serious concerns that should be examined. We have referred the findings to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for an additional level of review. Mr. Marshall has been directed to rescind the granting of the sick time hours he approved, and they have been rescinded. The additional accounting error that the Finance Department made has also been corrected.”
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