If you could donate your vacation time to a co-worker who had a medical emergency, would you do it?
The federal government has such a leave transfer program, and one Laurel woman used the initiative to take advantage of the generosity of her co-workers to fraudulently receive 300 hours of vacation time last year.
"[Monetta] Harvey ran the Agriculture Department's voluntary leave transfer program, so she was able to exploit its vulnerabilities and take more than six weeks of vacation at her co-workers' expense," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
Harvey, 49, was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to three years' probation for making a false statement in the scheme. She also will have to pay back her co-workers and write a letter of apology to each of them.
According to charging documents, Harvey worked in the human resources division at the Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville and administered the Leave Donor Program, which allows an employee with a documented medical condition to receive paid leave donated by other employees, rather than being required to take unpaid time off from work.
In 2011, from April to September, Harvey submitted four letters purportedly written by two doctors stating that she suffered from hypertension and chronic depression. The letters said Harvey needed up to three days of medical leave a week.
Nineteen co-workers agreed to donate about 300 hours, worth about $9,000, of paid leave.
When Harvey's supervisor became suspicious of the letters, she contacted one of the doctors, who said that Harvey was not his patient and he had not written any of the medical notes on her behalf, prosecutors said.
Investigators could find no record confirming the existence of the other doctor.
Law enforcement officials interviewed Harvey in March, and she admitted to creating the doctor's notes. She admitted to typing the notes herself and forging the doctors' signatures.