Along with allegedly falsifying government documents to get a second salary, former Government Employees’ Retirement System Administrator Willis Todmann had GERS issue him a Diners Club card, which he kept using after he resigned, prosecutors said on the first day of Todmann’s corruption trial Wednesday.
But Todmann, who has pleaded not guilty, deserved the second salary and always paid the bills on the Diners Club card, argued his attorney Treston Moore.
Before November 2004, Todmann served as GERS’ chief financial officer, making $100.000 per year. That year GERS promoted Todmann to serve as the system’s acting administrator, earning a raise in pay to $117,000 per year under a GERS governing board resolution authorizing Todmann to collect his CFO salary plus 15 percent of what was then the administrator’s salary.
After getting a pay raise for taking on the responsibilities of GERS administrator, prosecutors allege Todmann arranged to have himself paid an entire second salary by forging a memo from then-GERS board chairman Carver Farrow.
Prosecutors say the system’s payroll records indicate that between February 2006 and February 2007, Todmann was paid the full salaries for both jobs, collecting an annual salary of $237,000 rather than the $127,000 listed as his salary in GERS budget documents presented to the Legislature.
At the outset of the trial Wednesday on St. Thomas, prosecutors filed an amended complaint, changing the specific criminal allegations against Todmann slightly. He is now charged with two counts of obtaining money by false pretense, one count of forgery, one count of defrauding the GERS in violation of the GERS statute, one count of embezzlement by a fiduciary, and one count of grand larceny.
No one disputes Todmann in fact received two salaries for a time, while he was acting administrator of GERS and simultaneously holding the position of chief financial officer. But Todmann is claiming he was simply being paid to perform two full-time jobs, after requesting the extra compensation and having it approved.
"My client … was required to do both jobs for one job’s salary," Moore said.
Prosecutors argue Todmann knew he was already being compensated for his extra duties and that information was falsified on several documents in order to arrange the extra salary and keep it secret.
In particular, Todmann wrote up a request for the second salary, which appears to have been signed by then-GERS Board of Trustees Chairman Carver Farrow but which Farrow denies having signed.
According to Moore, the late Alphonso Nibbs, then staff attorney to GERS "advised my client on many occasions that it would be totally okay to receive a second salary."
Relying on that advice, Todmann requested a salary for the second job, and "the memorandum came back with what appeared to be the signature of Carver Farrow," Moore said.
Assistant Attorney General Denise George argued Todmann forged Carver’s signature approving Todmann’s second salary because he knew he needed a signed document to present to GERS Human Resources Director Janice Turnbull. He also knew he was already being compensated for his extra duties, she said. George called Laurence Bryan, Todmann’s predecessor at GERS, to the stand to testify about what Todmann knew … and when.
Bryan said the board passed a resolution in 2000 setting the pay for acting administrators. That resolution says whenever a GERS employee is designated acting administrator for more than 10 days, he or she is to receive their normal salary plus 15 percent of whatever the current administrator’s salary is.
Todmann knew about the policy because he was present at the board meeting when the policy was enacted, Bryan said. And on several occasions he sent Todmann copies of the resolution along with paperwork to receive extra pay for work as acting administrator, and Todmann filled out the paperwork to apply for the extra pay, Bryan said.
GERS Human Resources Director Janice Turnbull testified that Todmann was already receiving the extra compensation due him when she was presented with a memo apparently signed by Farrow approving the second salary.
Turnbull noted she was very surprised when the request came in, saying it was "definitely outside the norm."
It was so far outside the norm that it took a lot of work to arrange, because the government’s payroll system does not allow two salaries for the same social security number, she said. But she had a document authorizing the extra salary that appeared to be signed by the right individuals, so she processed the paperwork.
"My boss directed me to process the NOPA (Notice of Personnel Action) so I did," Turnbull said.
Once that NOPA was prepared, it was presented to Farrow "who signed it and didn’t object," Moore said, suggesting this meant Todmann had reason to believe everything was in order.
Separately from the question of Todmann’s compensation, Todmann had GERS issue him a Diners Club card, which amounted to fraud.
"No one else was ever issued one, he had only one issued to himself," George said. "No one else even knew about it. In fact, it did not come to light until 2008, when Austin Nibbs, the new administrator received a notice from Diners Club."
Todmann always paid all the charges on that card, so there was no theft or fraud, countered Moore. Details of how the card was used and who paid it will likely come out later in the week as the trial continues.
Farrow is also expected to testify concerning the memorandum approving Todmann’s extra salary which appears to bear his signature. The trial continues Thursday morning.