Five defendants accused of aiding timecard fraud at Hanford are scheduled to go to trial Sept. 29, in what is expected to be the first of three trials.
U.S. Judge Edward Shea said Monday in Richland that the five former field work supervisors at the Hanford tank farms would go to trial first in the courtroom at the Richland Federal Building and that the second trial, for a former radiological control supervisor, would start Nov. 18.
The third trial, for three former upper managers at the tank farms, has yet to be scheduled.
The five former field work supervisors, also sometimes called "persons in charge" or PICs, were split on whether they wanted to go to trial this month or to delay.
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The five former supervisors did not approve timecards of the workers they supervised, but they were responsible for getting work done.
They would secure volunteers for overtime, knowing that workers would only volunteer if overtime was offered in full shifts, which often were eight hours long, according to court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Eastern Washington.
They knew full well that the work to be done would not require a full shift, according to court documents. They would let workers know that they could go home when the work was completed, knowing a full shift's overtime pay would be claimed, according to court documents.
They not only fraudulently incentivized overtime for the benefit of former tank farm contractor CH2M Hill Hanford Group from 1999 to 2008, but also claimed overtime pay for themselves for hours not worked, according to court documents.
Overtime claims were particularly high in the last year of the CH2M Hill contract at the tank farms, according to court documents. The supervisors would lobby in afternoon meetings for labor resources, including overtime, needed to complete work, according to court documents.
Documents show defendant Kenneth Baird was paid more than $12,000 for overtime in 2008. Defendant James Michael Hay was paid more than $64,000 for overtime in 2008. Defendant Perry Mark Howard was paid more than $20,000 in overtime in 2008. Defendant Mark Johnson was paid more than $20,000 in overtime in numerous years. And defendant Daniel Niebuhr was paid more than $21,000 in overtime in 2003.
Hay was known for supervising short, easy jobs that were called "Hay jobs," that allowed for rampant timecard fraud, the prosecution alleged.
The government plans to use evidence at trial from nine tank farm employees that defendants supervised, all of whom have pleaded guilty to charges related to timecard fraud, plus information from other tank farm employees and time card records.
Attorney Bryan Hershman asked the court for more time to prepare the case for his client, Niebuhr, saying he was in the position of proving a negative -- "that my client did not partake in the alleged practices."
"The governmental theory consists purely of the allegations of interested parties, lacking any corroborative documentary or physical evidence, and misguided inference from the ordinary practice of Hanford," Hershman said in a court document.
Attorneys for some of the other field work supervisors said their clients were ready to go to trial and have the allegations behind them.
Initially, Shea had scheduled two former radiological control supervisors to go to trial in September. But one changed her plea to guilty and the other required more time before trial for personal and health reasons.
Shea found that defendant Stephanie Livesey was competent to stand trial but agreed to hold her trial second.
He did move back the first trial by one week from its original planned start date of Sept. 22. Potential jurors for the case already have been notified.
-- Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; email@example.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews