Columbus – Auditor of State Keith Faber announced formal findings Tuesday totaling more than $26,000 against two contractors at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), who were paid for nearly 250 hours when they were not on the job.
The finding for recovery for public monies illegally expended was issued against Gowtham Andrajula and Pema Dechen and Guidesoft Inc. (doing business as KnowledgeService Inc.), following an independent audit of financial statements for the BWC and the Industrial Commission of Ohio from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.
“We all expect to get what we pay for, but in this case it’s painfully obvious that Ohioans did not,” said Auditor Faber. “These contractors padded their paychecks with Ohio tax dollars for work they simply did not perform and now they are being held to account for their misdeeds.”
Andrajula and Dechen worked as information technologies consultants for Simin Solutions Inc., a Central Ohio software firm contracted by Guidesoft to provide services to BWC at the agency’s offices in the William Green Building in downtown Columbus. As such, Andrajula and Dechen were required to report the hours they worked using BWC’s timekeeping system.
The Ohio Inspector General’s Office began investigating Andrajula and Dechen in May 2020 after BWC received an anonymous complaint alleging fraudulent payroll activities, after the two were spotted away from the office during working hours. Following a review of the consultants’ timekeeping reports, electronic keycard data and video security footage inside the William Green Building, BWC determined the Andrajula and Dechen “were away from their desks for significant periods of time throughout their workdays” when they were clocked in “on BWC time,” according to the Inspector General’s Office.
A subsequent review by the State Auditor’s Office confirmed that Andrajula was improperly paid for more than 121 hours, for a total of $14,151, while Dechen received $12,251 for 126 hours-plus.
As of late November, Guidesoft and Simin Solutions were working with BWC to arrange for repayment, according to the Inspector General’s Office.
“It’s crucial that Ohio’s agencies have strong checks in place to help ensure that those that have larceny on their mind are not given the opportunity to steal from hardworking Ohioans,” stated Auditor Faber
A full copy of this report is available online.
Additionally, the Inspector General’s Office forwarded copies of its findings to local prosecutors for further review.