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Monday, May 20, 2024

When an ex-employee stole $4k from the city, officials used a new method to get it back

VIRGINIA BEACH — A grand jury here indicted a former city employee on three embezzlement charges stemming from improper use of a city’s FedEx account, City Auditor Lyndon Remias said.

The ex-employee, Brian Scott Hall, was a business development coordinator in the city’s department of economic development.

Remias said the embezzlement charges “relate to the multiple use of the city’s corporate FedEx account to ship personal items to a person in the Philippines” over the course of several years. The city has an economic development office in Olongapo City in the Philippines, according to the economic development website.

Findings from the internal investigation were passed on to the police department’s economic crimes unit, Remias said, which he does when audits reach $200 or more — which are considered felonies. The Commonwealth Attorney’s office then sent evidence to a grand jury, which delivered the three indictments on Nov. 5.

Hall resigned from his position on June 28, said Julie Hill, the city’s spokeswoman.

Hall was recently listed as the vice president of economic development of the Bowling Green Area Chamber. Ron Bunch, the chamber’s president, was not immediately available for comment on Hall’s employment there.

Remias said the total of Hall’s shipments cost approximately $4,000, which the city was able to recoup utilizing a method never before used — by withholding part of Hall’s annual leave payout still owed to him by the city.

“When an employee has vested and they still have leave on the books (once they stop working for the city), they are entitled to a leave payout,” Remias said.

Related story: Head of Virginia Beach’s economic development resigns during audit

City employees become vested after five years of full-time employment, according to the city’s employee benefits manual. Hall had worked for the city nine years, and had enough leave on the books to be entitled to a leave payout, from which the city’s payroll department withheld $4,000.

The city used this restitution via payroll method because “most employees” who are found to have handled the city’s funds improperly “are not vested or do not have a leave payout, so they pay us back through court ordered restitution,” Remias said.

The payroll method also resulted in a faster recuperation of the city’s money than if they had relied on court-ordered restitution.

Remias has sent 12 cases to the police department for criminal investigation since he began working as city auditor in 2008.

A court date is set for Hall on Nov. 28 in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

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