Fired city employee had access to petty cash

Dayton law department employee Christen Turner had a trusted financial role and unblemished personnel record until she was fired last month as police launched an investigation into suspected theft in office.

A Dayton Daily News review of hundreds of pages of financial records and personnel files found that she had unfettered access to several city funds, including a credit card and a petty cash fund that was restocked with checks from the city to Turner.

City officials and police won’t comment on the allegations, saying the criminal investigation is ongoing. Turner was terminated after a brief suspension for alleged theft involving the ability to access funds by submitting claims, police officials said.

As executive secretary, she oversaw the petty cash fund for her department — every city department has one — that allowed her to dole out cash to pay back employees for mileage, parking and incidental office expenses. She then filed a report with the city, approved by her director, that led the city to write a personal check for hundreds of dollars to her to restock the account.

She was also one of three law department employees with a city credit card. All purchases were signed off on by two other employees.

Turner’s 127-page personnel file shows she worked several years as a city intern before she was hired in 1998 as a full-time office worker in the city commissioners office for $9.12 an hour. She received positive performance reviews as she worked her way up to executive secretary of the law department’s civil division, making $26.07 an hour when she was fired last month.

Turner reported directly to city Law Director John Danish. The department has 23 employees and an annual budget of roughly $2.7 million.

Luckie anniversary

One year ago last week, state Rep. Clayton Luckie pleaded guilty to felony charges that he misused his campaign account. The charges followed an FBI investigation.

According to court records, since going to prison in March of 2013, the Dayton Democrat has made only $389 in restitution payments. He still owes $11,504.61. The money is meant to pay back the state for the salary he received as an Ohio House member from the time he was indicted to when his term ended.

Luckie was sentenced to three years in prison. He is at the Southeastern Correctional Institution outside of Lancaster.

Watch your W-2

As workers across the region get their W-2s and gear up for tax season, fraudsters are looking for a piece of that pie.

One recently busted tax fraud scheme was a family operation, consisting of three Cincinnati sisters who have pleaded guilty in what prosecutors say was an income-tax refund scheme that lasted four years, the Associated Press reported.

Tanisha Riston, 39, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to file false claims for tax refunds and making false statements on a bankruptcy petition, the AP reported.

Riston’s sisters, Kimberly Riston, 48, and Danita Riston, 49, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge last year.

Prosecutors describe Tanisha Riston as the mastermind of the scheme. They say she and her sisters recruited taxpayers for whom they would file tax returns using false income information, defrauding the government of more than $100,000.

OIG: Price too high

Medicare is paying “grossly excessive” prices for vacuum erection systems, compared to what non-Medicare payers pay, according to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

The HHS OIG reviewed the cost of vacuum erection systems after a review of a major supplier of the systems found Medicare prices were excessive when compared to prices available to those without Medicare.

From 2006 to 2011, the report says Medicare recipients ran up 473,620 claims for vacuum erection systems, the cost rising to $172.4 million. Over that time, the yearly amount claimed grew from $20.6 million to $38.6 million.

Improved oversight of the purchase of these systems could save the federal government $18 million per year and Medicare recipients $4.5 million, the report concluded.