Hanford timecard fraud trial postponed

Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldJune 30, 2014 

The first of three trials related to alleged timecard fraud at Hanford will not start next week as planned.

The only defendant remaining in the group of two that had been scheduled to go to trial July 9 will undergo a competency evaluation, Judge Edward Shea ruled Monday in the Richland federal courtroom.

Shea expects to decide in August if Stephanie Livesey is competent to help her attorney in her defense. If he decides she is, she will go to trial in September during the time that had been set aside for the second group of 10 defendants accused of aiding timecard fraud under former Hanford tank farms contractor CH2M Hill Hanford Group.

Attorneys for the second group of defendants -- five former workers who supervised hourly employees -- should be prepared to go to trial in September if Livesey is not tried then, Shea said.

Their trial is expected to focus on their role in obtaining authorized overtime for hourly workers from upper managers.

Livesey and Glenda Davis are former radiological control supervisors at the Hanford tank farms. The prosecution has said they had a role in approving the timecards of radiological control technicians, including nine hourly workers who have made plea deals.

Davis also had been scheduled to go to trial July 9, but pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to employee timecards in June.

Livesey has been unable to assist in preparing for the trial since the unexpected death of her son in May, said Bob Thompson, her attorney, in a court document asking to delay her trial. He said then that he would file more medical and psychological reports, which are sealed.

The third group now is scheduled to go to trial in February. It includes three upper managers.

As other matters were discussed in the case Monday, Tyler Tornabene, assistant U.S. attorney, said deals are being negotiated with two individuals.

Documents filed by the defense indicate that the federal government has approached Vincent Chapman with an offer.

When CH2M Hill reached a settlement agreement to pay $18.5 million to the federal government in spring 2013, the federal government reserved the right to pursue cases against workers, including about two dozen who were called out in the settlement agreement. Ten of those workers have been charged -- the nine who are going to trial and Davis.

Chapman, a radiological control technician, also was on the settlement agreement list, and he is also named as a witness in Livesey's trial.

Tornabene sent Chapman a letter April 15 accusing him of submitting false overtime claims between fall 1999 and fall 2008 and threatening to file a civil lawsuit against him. The United States paid him at least $107,632, that it would not have paid if it had known that overtime hours were fraudulent, according to Tornabene.

The United States is entitled to seek at least three times that amount, $322,897, in a civil action, the letter said. But it offered him a chance to resolve the issue before a suit is filed, which likely would include repaying the $107,632, the letter said.

Attorneys for the defense wanted more information on any settlement talks the U.S. Attorney's Office was conducting, but Shea said that was not relevant until any deal is completed.

-- Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews

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