SA removes RAGO chair following fraud allegations
Organization pledges to adopt new scheduling system following fraud allegations
The Student Association’s Board of Directors will adopt a new scheduling system to curb fraud following a May 19 resolution to remove Rules, Administration and Government Oversight Committee Chair Eric Weinman for “time theft” and other violations of SA’s Code of Ethics.
Documents from SA’s executive investigation indicate that summer staff will transition to a new scheduling program to prevent students from clocking into work outside of their normally scheduled hours after SA staff claim they approved Weinman’s hours due to a lack of training and oversight for the scheduling system.
Documents from a May SA investigation accused Weinman of “fraud,” “neglect of power” and “time theft.” Weinman, who was removed as Assistant Treasurer after clocking-in for “approximately 123 hours and 20 minutes of illegitimate” office hours, will return nearly $2,000 of “falsely claimed monies” to SA, according to SA’s Executive Board. The vote to remove Weinman passed with 11 yays, 5 abstentions and 0 nays, but board members decided not to press criminal charges against Weinman. Weinman, who has since acquired a lawyer, denies any wrongdoing and attributes his removal to “accuracy issues.”
An audit revealed that Weinam collected pay for 123 hours and 20 minutes of unscheduled hours, totaling to an accrued pay of $1,880.85 before tax. This qualifies a charge of 4th Degree Grand Larceny, according to NYS law.
SA Treasurer Kendra Harris first noticed Weinman’s “fraudulent punch-in times” in late February, during a department office hour review. When the review revealed inconsistencies in Weinman’s timesheets — including clock-ins outside of SA’s normal business hours — Harris discovered that SA’s Associative Administrative Director “illegitimately” granted Weinman office access without consulting the Executive Board.
Harris says she immediately requested that Weinman’s access be revoked.
“At this time, I was only aware that he had been clocking in more than he was supposed to for the Spring semester. I immediately asked the Associate Administrative Director for a list of those who had access to the main office and upon seeing Weinman’s name, immediately instructed her to revoke his access to the main office which he also was illegitimately granted with no approval from the executive board,” said Harris.
Harris also raised the issue at SA’s first March Board of Directors meeting to encourage greater actions to block “students [who] were abusing their office hours and exploiting student money.”
SA was “unable” to remove Weinman, due to the February suspension of recently reinstated SA President Yousouf Amgolebe.
“I notified the Board that there were students that were abusing their office hours and exploiting student money, [but] without an acting President we are unable to hire/terminate staff members or issue any warnings for probation,” said Harris.
The issue came up again in mid-March when Harris “stumbled” upon timesheets that she refused to approve. But former SA Vice President Georgia Hulbert — who recently resigned due to her “vision of the organization and mental well-being [being] impacted by hatred, harassment and lack of support from fellow members of the executive board and others within the legislative branch” — overrode Harris’ decision and approved Weinman’s hours.
Time sheet approval records from the investigation report indicate that Harris rejected a timesheet on March 16, which Hulbert later approved on March 17.
Hulbert says the “error” that led her to approve Weinman’s time sheet was due to a lack of nearby supervision from the Human Resources professional staff and technical glitches in the new Kronos system, which is used to electronically clock hours.
“The new Kronos system we use to sign off on staff timesheets is not the easiest to navigate at times and without nearby supervision from the HR professional staff it can be a little complicated when technical glitches and approval controls aren't working as you would typically expect,” said Hulbert. “Since we were signing off on automatically generated timesheets during quarantine, I continued to click “approve” so that all of our employees could be paid the set amount that Kendra and I initially agreed upon.”
Hulbert, however, also said that she did not check the note Harris left her when she approved Weinman’s time sheet.
“We had not left messages on timesheets before, I did not see the notice or concern at the time.”
Hulbert said she ultimately wanted to defer to Harris’s “final judgement” on Weinman.
“It takes two executive officers to sign off (to prevent any technical issues like these from occurring) which is why Kendra brought this to my attention as soon as she noticed the error on my part. As it was initially her concern and one of her scheduled finance department employees, I trusted her final judgement upon further discussion,” Hulbert said.
Harris’ final judgement came on May 13 when she found concrete evidence of “fraudulent actions” while sorting through timesheets of Council Coordinators estimate potential summer staff costs.
“As I scanned the timesheets for each pay period during the Spring, I noticed Weinman's punch times as an hourly employee were consistent with various meetings of the Board (as specified earlier),” Hulbert said. “I immediately notified SA counsel of my findings and the Vice President. The next day, May 14, we scheduled a meeting with Weinman to discuss our concerns with his punch-in times.”
SA’s Executive Board scheduled a May 14 meeting with Weinman, Administrative Director Mark Sorel and SA Legal Counsel Joshua Korman to terminate Weinman’s employment and hand him a letter demanding repayment for the nearly $2,000.
Harris says Weinman was aware he would lose his position and had no excuse for his actions at the time the investigation’s results were presented to him.
“Weinman had no justifications for the fraudulent acts of time theft other than it being a mistake. The timesheets clearly indicate that Weinman has even clocked out of his assistant treasurer office hours, only to clock back in to attend a Finance Committee meeting. There is even proof that Weinman had been clocking in during finals weeks with edited punches,” said Harris. “Later that evening, we issued a letter of termination and made him aware that these fraudulent behaviors would be presented to the Board at the next meeting and that we will be bringing a resolution to the floor for his removal.”
Although Harris says the decision to terminate Weinman was “one of the most difficult of her tenure,” she felt it was necessary to “blow the whistle” to save SA’s reputation and tax exemption status.
“These excess gains transactions are far more detrimental to our tax exemption status than the alleged conflicts of interest of President Yousouf Amolegbe (in which he received $0 in excess or personal gains). A massive violation of trust and fraud has been committed against the student body, and as Treasurer it is my duty to blow the whistle and protect our student's money,” Harris said.
“Not once did I suspect that Weinman had been monetizing his position(s) for excess gains. After conducting the audit and seeing the facts in front of me, it is reasonable to say that Weinman is not only the most ethically challenged member of the Board but he is simultaneously an inherent danger to the credibility of our Board.”
Weinman has begun “speaking with parties” at UB to challenge the claims following his May 17 removal. In an email to The Spectrum, Weinman denied claims that he committed fraud.
“Many accuracy issues may not permit SA to share information regarding [the allegations]. I am speaking with parties at the university,” Weinman wrote in a Sunday night email. “I will plainly say right now, there was no fraud, and there are many people who can actually attest to that.”
Harris says that the accuracy issue to which Weinman is referring may have been an “oversight” in her initial report that misquoted the number of hours for which Weinman was scheduled. This error, however, did not influence the allegations against Weinman, according to Harris.
“The accuracy issue is the number of hours I indicated in my report that he had been scheduled for in the Spring semester. The correct number is 11 hours weekly, however, my report indicated nine hours based on an oversight of the office hours he was assigned during add/drop week,” Harris said. “This oversight, however, had no bearings on the number of illegitimate hours he was clocked in for the entire year.”
Weinman’s seat will remain vacant for the remainder of the 2019-20 Board of Directors session, according to the SA’s removal proposition.
As of June 1, Weinman will have an ex-officio seat on the Board of Directors as Engineering Council Coordinator. He will be a voting member as of June 1st and receive stipend pay beginning late August 2020.
Elizabeth Napolitano is the senior news editor and can be reached at Elizabeth.Napolitano@ubspectrum.com.