Four more defendants were sentenced Thursday on felony charges related to timecard fraud at Hanford, receiving fines of up to $165,744 but no time incarcerated.
All were paid hourly wages as radiological control technicians for CH2M Hill Hanford Group, the former Hanford tank farm contractor. They admitted to collecting overtime pay for hours they were not at work.
The court is always concerned about disparities of sentences, said Judge Lonny Suko in the Yakima federal courthouse.
Earlier, some defendants accused of aiding timecard fraud had criminal charges dropped and paid civil fines, he said. All were managers or supervisors. In addition, four supervisors who went to trial on charges related to timecard fraud were acquitted.
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“The issue is one of fairness and justice,” Suko said.
He followed the same sentencing strategy he used last week, when the first group of hourly defendants was sentenced. He passed out sentences that included substantial fines, but not the jail time that prosecutors requested for some of them.
Thursday, Suko imposed fines based on the amount of pay the prosecution estimated they received for hours they were not at work.
He did not reduce any of the proposed fines, as he did last week for two workers who provided what the prosecution called “outstanding” assistance to investigators. They made telephone calls recorded by investigators to provide evidence of timecard fraud by other CH2M Hill tank farm employees.
The defendants sentenced Thursday all provided substantial assistance, resulting in assistant U.S. attorney Tyler Tornabene requesting less incarceration than called for under federal sentencing guidelines. They provided help, such as testifying for the prosecution at trial, but they were not asked to and did not make monitored phone calls.
The judge required Joel Radford to pay the largest fine, $165,744. He received a slightly higher wage than the other workers sentenced Thursday because he served as lead radiological control technician, Tornabene said.
“This case just eats up my gut,” said Radford’s attorney, Larry Stephenson. “My client from day one just could not consider anything but admitting what he did.”
Radford was paid more money than he should have been, but “the people above him were allowing that and looking the other way,” Stephenson said.
“I didn’t know the magnitude of the situation I was putting myself in by what I did,” Radford told the judge. He continues to work as a radiological control technician, but at half the wages available at Hanford.
William Kim Jones is required to pay a fine of $147,012.
“I just feel bad about the whole situation,” Jones told the judge. “I want to make it right. I want to move on with my life.”
He’s making money through some small businesses he owns and accepts he will never again make the amount of pay he received at Hanford, said his attorney, Shelley Ajax.
Darin Judy is required to pay a fine of $108,073.
Judy has had a difficult time finding work since he lost his Hanford job in 2013, said his attorney, Christian Phelps.
Judy said when he started work at the tank farms in 2005 he observed the culture that had workers claiming overtime work they did not earn for months and then started to do the same.
“I allowed the culture to change my values,” he said.
Lee Roberts is required to pay a fine of $32,166 after claiming less overtime than the other defendants sentenced Thursday.
He is returning to college as a full-time student to become qualified for a new career because he cannot return to his previous employment, said his attorney, Bronson Brown.
“I apologize,” Roberts said. “My life has been greatly impacted. It makes me analyze my decision making.”