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Amtrak workers charged with overtime fraud; feds use GPS to catch them

August 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Blog

Check out this article where it shows how GPS tracking can be a great tool. For questions, contact us directly at 800-960-6748.
Two Amtrak supervisors have been charged with charging tens of thousands of dollars in unearned overtime. (Larry Higgs | NJ Advance Media)

NEWARK — Federal prosecutors Tuesday charged two Amtrak supervisors with overbilling for hundreds of hours of unearned overtime that cost the company combined losses of tens of thousands of dollars.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, Richard Vogel, 63, of Edison, and Donald Harper, 46, of Somerset, were arrested and charged in separate criminal complaints with fraud on an agency receiving federal funds and theft of government property. They are scheduled to make their initial appearances in court later Tuesday, it said.

Vogel, who has worked for Amtrak for 39 years, billed Amtrak for 687.75 overtime hours between November, 2015 and June, Fishman’s office said.

In 2015, it says, Vogel more than doubled his $68,775 in regular wages by billing for $117,281 in overtime. Along with other compensation, it says, he took home $214,423 last year. For the first four months of 2016, the complaint says, he received $40,352 in overtime.

The complaint says video surveillance was used on Vogel’s residence to show that he was not at work at sites in Linden and Princeton Junction, where he supervised work crews.

Aggressive managerial oversight, adequate staffing and up-to-date facilities are necessary to keep overtime costs in line — a goal that only some counties attained.

On 21 days this year that Vogel billed for 11.5 or 12 hours of overtime, Vogel’s Amtrak-issued vehicle was either parked at his home for the entire day or was away from his home “for a minimal amount of time,” it says.

The complaint also says investigators used video and cell phone records as evidence that he billed for overtime, according to the complaint. Vogel also billed for 41 regular work hours when he was not present on the job, the complaint said.

In all, Fishman’s office alleged that Vogel’s overtime resulted in a loss to Amtrak of more than $71,000 since November.

Harper, who has worked at Amtrak since 1990, was charged with overbilling Amtrak in 2014 and 2015, the complaint in his case says. He was paid $96,094 in overtime in 2014 and $110,344 in 2015, more than doubling his regular wages both years, it says.

His total compensation reached $185,149 in 2014 and 205,213 in 2015, it says.

In his case, investigators again looked at cell phone records and billing records, but also tracked data from a GPS device that had been attached to his Amtrak-issued vehicle.

Harper allegedly overbilled Amtrak for more than 200 hours of overtime when he was not present at work, resulting in losses of more than $20,000, the complaint says.

Harper, who worked out of Elizabeth, supervised crews installing Positive Train Control along rail lines in New Jersey, it says. Congress mandated that rail operators install the system, which can automatically slow or stop a train, it says.

Harper and Vogel both face maximum penalties of 10 years in prison on each of the fraud and theft of funds charges, as well as fines, Fishman’s office said.

Fishman credited Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General in Philadelphia with the investigation leading to the charges.


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