Most of the former CH2M Hill Hanford Group workers waiting for sentencing in federal court on charges related to timecard fraud are likely to receive little, if any, jail time.
The next sentencing date, for five of 10 remaining defendants, is April 23 in the Yakima Federal Courthouse.
All 10 provided substantial assistance in the investigation of timecard fraud. A recommendation has yet to be made for one of the defendants, Glenda Davis, who changed her plea after her trial was scheduled.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern Washington District has indicated in court records that it will recommend reduced sentences for the other nine defendants based on their cooperation in the case. Some have aided the investigation since late 2008.
The prosecution’s assessment of their level of cooperation will influence the sentences. Some were asked to make recorded phone calls to other Hanford workers to aid investigators.
At most, the prosecution is prepared to recommend four separate 48-hour periods of confinement to be served in a month, possibly on weekends, for five of the defendants, according to a court document.
That’s less than the sentence for defendant Daniel Niebuhr, who was sentenced earlier this month to 30 days confinement and a fine of $34,146.
Niebuhr, who worked as a supervisor at the Hanford tank farms, was the first to be sentenced. He declined to cooperate with prosecutors after he changed his plea to guilty days before trial.
He would have gone to trial with four other supervisors, all of whom were acquitted.
Most of the remaining defendants also are expected to receive substantial fines.
The nine hourly workers who cooperated admitted to lying on their timecards about the hours they worked to receive extra pay, according to the prosecution. All worked as radiological control technicians and one as a lead radiological control technician.
Overtime was called out in eight-hour shifts under the former Hanford tank farm contractor to induce workers to agree to take the shifts. When the work was completed, sometimes hours early, workers would go home but claim full eight-hour shifts on their timecards, according to court documents.
The Hanford policy was to pay time and a half for the first four hours of overtime worked and double time for the second four hours and Sunday shifts. Some defendants were paid more than $100 an hour for double time, although they might not have been at work. DOE reimbursed CH2M Hill for payroll costs, including overtime.
CH2M Hill agreed to pay $18.5 million to the federal government in 2013 to settle civil and criminal allegations of defrauding taxpayers through widespread timecard fraud at Hanford when it held the DOE tank farm contract at Hanford from fall 1999 to fall 2008.
Because of that payment, the Department of Justice will recommend that defendants pay fines rather than restitution for money estimated to have been received because of fraud.
Prosecutors will recommend Thomas Huebner, William Kim Jones, Darin Judy, Joel Radford and Rhonda Stamper be sentenced to incarceration that might be served over four weekends.
In addition, four months of home detention and a fine of $26,631 is proposed for Huebner, who sometimes worked as a lead radiological control technician. He not only falsified his timecard, but also was responsible at times for filling eight-hour overtime shifts with his coworkers, according to court documents.
Prosecutors plan to recommend that Jones receive six months of home detention and pay a fine of $147,000; Judy receive six months of home detention and pay a fine of $108,073; Radford receive six months of home detention and pay a fine of $165,744 and Stamper receive six months of home detention and pay a fine of $119,494.
The recommendation for Douglas Mallory is four months of home detention and a $56,141 fine, but no incarceration. For Lee Roberts it is three months of home detention and a $32,166 fine, but no incarceration.
Prosecutors plan to propose probation and a $90,000 fine for Christian Careaga and probation and a $50,000 fine for Carl Schroeder.
Careaga’s and Schroeder’s assistance to the prosecution was outstanding, according to the Department of Justice. Both consented to a voluntary interview when first contacted by the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General and readily admitted their role in the timecard fraud conspiracy, according to court documents. Their cooperation continued with information that was neither held back nor exaggerated.
The attorney for Stamper, who is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, said in court documents that she was a low-level employee who arrived at a job site where she was told how to report her time and did as she was instructed. She became aware over time that she was being paid for hours not worked, but continued to report time as she had been instructed.
Other attorneys for the first group of defendants scheduled to be sentenced — Stamper, Careaga, Huebner, Schroeder and Mallory — said in court documents that charges against them had taken a terrible toll.
Some lost their Hanford jobs as a result of their guilty pleas and at least one has been unable to find another job, their attorneys said.