DMR Timesheets raise troubling questions regarding contract worker payment and supervision (Updated)

Slabbed has obtained timesheets related to contract work performed by Samantha Hebert at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.  Before I show you folks what I have we need to back up in time, first to December of 2012 when the DMR Scandal was still young when Anita Lee and Karen Nelson detailed the DMR friends and family program for the Sun Herald:

Relatives of DMR employees also work at the agency, although DMR directors say the hirings comply with the agency’s nepotism policy. The nepotism policy prohibits employees from participating in the hiring process for, or supervising, immediate family members, which includes in-laws. It does not prohibit family members from working at DMR.

Walker said his daughter-in-law was hired by DMR Public Relations Director Lauren Thompson and works as a special projects officer. Trinity Walker, wife of Scott Walker, is paid $27,700 a year, according to state records.

Walker said Thompson also hired Samantha Hebert, the sister of Tina Shumate, DMR’s director of coastal management. Hebert works under contract as a videographer, and has been paid $91,300 since October 2010, state records show. Hebert could not be reached at DMR to comment on her job.

When asked how to reach her sister, Shumate said, “She works for Dr. Walker, so you’d have to talk to him.”

Shumate, recently scrutinized in a federal audit for using grant money for DMR’s purchase of her parents’ Pascagoula property, also has a son and brother-in-law who were contract workers. Shumate said she was not involved in hiring her son, who participated in a summer work program while in high school. She said Walker hired her brother-in-law, who was employed only a short time.

The excerpt is very important for a number of reasons but before I get into that we need to fast forward to this past May when Susan Perkins, Leslie Gollott and Grant Larsen copped pleas to state charges related to their tenure of employment at DMR. To the extent Anita’s story that was linked in my post on the topic is now 404, I use the AP wire version that was run in the Washington Times:

While employed at MDMR, two of the defendants said, their supervisor, Tina Shumate, tried to tell them what they should say to investigators then working to uncover crimes in the agency, and she asked them to manufacture receipts, according to court documents.

Now back to those timesheets.  I have studied and pondered them with an auditor’s eye and what I can say is these documents raise very troubling questions. Let’s examine the first timesheet circa October 2010: Samantha Hebert Timesheets 1 Now lets compare it to another one circa August 2011: Samantha Hebert Timesheets 2 Will the real Susan Perkins please stand up?  Also notice the 2010 time sheet has the time in and time out listed to back up the number of hours while the 2011 time sheet does not. What I need to show to make the larger point though is a timesheet from 2012: Samantha Hebert Timesheets 8 Now it appears we have three versions of Susan Perkins signature but it could be that the 2011 and 2012 timesheets were signed by the same person. However that person could not have been Susan Perkins because she was not employed at DMR in November 2012 in public relations. Lauren Thompson was in charge of Public Relations then per this PRR I found on Muckrock. Once again I turn to the Sun Herald for even greater clarity:

Perkins was moved from DMR’s Coast Management and Planning office in late January to take over as director of the public relations department. She replaced Lauren Thompson, who was reassigned as manager of public relations.

It appears Bill Walker did not consult Samantha Hebert’s timesheets when he said she worked for Lauren Thompson back in December of 2012.  This much is clear, something is terribly wrong with the documents that were used to calculate the $91,300 that was paid to Samantha Hebert by DMR. Finally, I’d like to note that Slabbed contacted Susan Perkins for comment. She declined comment citing her plea agreement and referred me to her lawyer. I also contacted Ms. Shumate’s lawyer Tim Holleman for comment. Mr. Holleman did not return my email soliciting comment before press time.

Update:
Since this post was published I have received a copy of the Probation Order in the case State of Mississippi v Susan Perkins. The last page of the document bears the official seal of Circuit Clerk of Harrison County Mississippi and it contains Ms. Perkin’s witnessed signature. Here it is:

Susan Perkins Official Signature

The winner is the 2010 timesheet. The 2011 and 2012 timesheet examples, 2 of 8 such timesheets that I obtained of 9 total, strongly appear to contain a forged signature for Ms. Hebert’s supervisor.  Someone clearly has some explaining to do.

31 thoughts on “DMR Timesheets raise troubling questions regarding contract worker payment and supervision (Updated)”

  1. The answer is simple. She worked for Tina and the only relationship she had with public affairs is that of where her contract stated she worked for. During her time at DMR, she never left Tina’s side in the little time they actually spent at work.

  2. Doug, althoiugh all of this is important and surely illegal (falsification of State documents), it is old news. Everyone has known this all along. Why hasn’t Stacey Pickering jumped in on this???? It is his place I would think??? Or would it be Jim Hood???
    Just as serious are the employees that were involved in the crooked deals are STILL WORKING AT THE DMR!!! One, in particular, is still there because they know (I am told that they have all kind of contacts with the people who give out the grants) about grants. And that is just one mentioned. Close friends of John McKay (of the boat birthday party) is still employed there. People who are doing the hiring there are all from the same group. The Horne Agency people have “taken over” the finance section and they are “hand picking” individuals of their liking who will do whatever they tell them to do. Everyday clerks are being promoted to finance officers/clerks. Young people with little/no experience are being molded by the “in crowd”.
    So, you see, nothing has changed…..just new faces of the same. All Billy Hewes and Phil Bryant and Fatass people that are just like sheeple.
    I hope that Eye is mistaken and the dam is about to burst. The DMR would benefit greatly from a good cleansing and I know that the REAL workers who have been suppressed and treated like second-hand citizens would welcome that day.

    P. S. One girl there told me that you had no way of knowing who was watching you or what they were watching you for and that all long-time employees were afraid of being fired at any time.

    1. The p.s. is very correct. Miller, Spraggins, and Davis have moles all around the building that are reporting the activities and conversations of all who speak badly about the chosen few on the 6th floor. Be aware, there are still a few good people left in the finance department, but the powers that be are coming down hard on them and trying to force them out. This administration is far worse than the walkers in terms of corruption, they are just smarter and better when it comes to hiding it.

      1. I would not be surprised either way about planted moles. They probably need them for plenty of ass coverage. Based on what I have heard, the department with the highest moral appears to be fisheries. They promoted a guy named Joe Jewell who is a veteran employee with a sound education and management skills to run the department.. This probably would explain why there appears to be no bad news coming from that department. Maybe Jewell should be running the DMR

        1. No, Jewell should not be running the DMR. Do you not recall all those purchase orders he rubber stamped during the investigation. He said he didn’t read what they were for because he had so many and didn’t have the time to look over them. He’s definitely not the guy to be running the DMR.

        2. I believe Mr. Jewell was hired in because no one else wanted the position. Also, knowing for a fact that the fisheries office moral is pretty low, I would say that you are highly misinformed about what’s going on around the DMR building and mostly the fisheries office

          1. Perhaps. And perhaps some people do not enjoy being “supervised” in the fisheries department.

            But I have heard Jewell is a straight shooter and upper management material.

            I guess the rumors vary and that is certainly ok.

            As far as the purchase orders go, it very well could have been an honest oversight due to a high volume. Not that it’s right but accidents sometimes happen.

      2. Speaking of moles again. I have received reports from inside operators over the weekend regarding personnel being “pimped out” by the HR director. However, this is simply hearsay and has not been confirmed.

        Watch out what you post on your social media DMR employees.

  3. Hmmmm. This is very interesting indeed. It does sound like someone has a lot of explaining to do. I wonder what kind of story we will get.

  4. I hate to burst any hope bubbles of the Hebert girls being in trouble over the time sheets but a very good confidential source told me a short time back that the FBI has already accused Samantha Hebert of forging the time sheets and she was able to show that she signed on behalf of others with their permission. This is not against the law. The FBI, after looking into her claims, stopped pursuing or threating her with indictment. While it appears Samantha will not face any charges Tina has a lot more to worry about.

    1. Blues,

      I am not the sharpest pencil in the box but in my opinion if Herbert obtained permission to legally sign these documents, they probably would have never surfaced. Of course, signing someones signature requires permission from at least one main source–the person you are signing for. It sounds like if your sources are correct, there could be much more to the story.

      1. Eye-Spy, I think the reason they surfaced is because this was investigated and Samantha Hebert was interrogated about the signatures by the FBI agents investigating this matter. She was threatened with indictment and her attorney argued successfully that what she admitted doing, signing the timesheet(s), was not illegal because she had the permission of the person she signed for. While I do not agree with her actions, I am passing on the facts as they were given to me by someone involved.

        1. I’m not disputing the veracity of the recounting of what you were told from the inside but I harbor great dubiety BB.

          On the surface, this major internal control override coupled with the inconsistencies in the public statements by Walker and Shumate are indicators that Ms. Hebert’s ghost was being paid by DMR. Whether or not she had obtained Susan Perkins’ permission to sign her name to a timesheet is irrelevant to that, see Karen Parker (Broussard).

          If Hebert showed up for work everyday as a videographer then the forged signatures are much less problematic. Cloud Strife suggests otherwise.

          1. I agree and do not doubt for a second that Samantha Hebert’s employment should be questioned. I am only relaying what I was told about the signatures. Why she was not indicted like the other DMR employees for much smaller amounts is with out question wrong. There is a reason we are unaware of but I think it involves her brother and mother.

            1. BB,

              Since we are entitled to believe and perceive what we want–I beleive you hit the nail on the head. I have mentioned before that I beleive the state by making public comments such as “this is an ongoing investigation” was nothing more than coverage incase something back fired.

              For those who have been following the DMR story, you may remember way back when the indictments were issued there were civil demand letters also issued. The names were posted in the paper but not all of them were indicted. That in itself is highly questionable. Surely if they issued a civil demand letter, they had enough to indict but it appears they were strategically selective for some “unknown reason”

          2. Holy Fractured Fairytales Batman,

            Hebert a videographer? What did she video?- the christening of da’ boats, on da’ boat parties at taxpayers’ expense, da’ bon voyage departures and arrivals of da’ rich and famous, da’ fish catches, da’ boats being dry docked for bottom work? Speaking about bottom work did she film the tightening up and freezing of Dr.Walker’s asshole when he realized the DMR gig was being investigated?

            Did Hebert read and go to school on the fractured fairytale of Karen Parker who was paid out of the JP Attorney’s Office and was supposed to have been the official ,internationally recognized photographer and working where? Oh, naturally at the JP Library taking pictures of JP employees for JP personnel badges.

            Then again, with Hebert working under Dr.Walker he may have secretly confirmed an EXECUTIVE HONORARY BS apprenticeship degree upon Hebert in Science Fiction and a PhD In Special Effects.

            1. I understand there is a lot of confusion regarding who Herbert worked for. Based on what I was told, she had an office in Tina’s segregated department area. If that is true I think it’s clear who was actually supervising her. Also, I have heard her actual dealings with the PR department were strikingly minimal.

  5. I may be dreaming, but it seems like I remember that the Sun Herald had an article a good while back of invoices for some “made up” convention that Samantha Hebert had signed up for to the tune of $3500? She got the money and there was no convention!!!! Why wasn’t she indicted????
    I do understand that the friends and family plan of Stacey Pickering has a clause that allows “dear family and friends” to have a free “get out of jail” card. All Mr. Pickering asked Samantha Hebert to do is to pay back the money. How about that??? What a great guy!!! Come on Mr. Pickering. Can’t you be consistant?? Justice is supposed to be blind! I guess Samantha’s parents, her sister, and brother, all belong to the same family plan. Why did they get off free when that Perkins girl and Larson boy only had a few hundred dollars in question and Samantha had $3500??? Doesn’t sound right, does it???
    Also, I noticed something about those time sheets. I don’t think that contract employees can get paid overtime. Eighty hours for two weeks work should be the maximum??? I don’t think that State employees can get paid overtime either. Am I mistaken???
    So now, felons and “felon-like” employees can get off scott free!!! Isn’t that nice. Now just watch and see what ole Joe Zeigler gets. His plea deal has not even been in the newspapers. Wonder why???? Everyone owes him favors….including all of the local, State, and Federal politicians. He knows where the bodies are buried, in my opinion. I imagine the snake nation will come out of hiding if they don’t throw the book at him and Tina and there will be hell to pay.

    1. Also, I noticed something about those time sheets. I don’t think that contract employees can get paid overtime. Eighty hours for two weeks work should be the maximum??? I don’t think that State employees can get paid overtime either. Am I mistaken???

      I think (not an expert) the critical question would be whether the hours past 40 were at the straight hourly rate. IMO not a regular employee (ie contract employee) usually means no time and half for overtime- and not that pay is restricted to 40 hours per week. Again, not an expert, but there are Mississippi specific experts out there to interpret all the particulars. What’s needed imo are the payments (checks cut) and contracts to match with the timesheets. Thus, I would expect to be told that a contract worker working 50 hours in a week means the contract worker gets paid 50 times the contract hourly rate. not 40 hours at the contract rate plus 10 hours at a higher bonus rate. Also, imo, typically no benefits like paid vacation health insurance, comp time and so on for contract workers. But, it’s the DMR, so I might learn something was different there.

      As far as an employee (contract or otherwise) authorized to provide the second (supervisors in this case) signature? Nope. Not buying that one. If that actually happened there ARE accepted ways to do this, all of which imo make it clear to all that this has been done, who did it and who authorized that it be done. So imo (AGAIN, not an expert but I have stayed at several Holiday Inn Expresses) that’s not an operable explanation. even in the Walker Pickering DMR world.

      A few other questions for the man with the documents which pertain to how did this work: were the contract worker payroll sheets processed the same as regular employees (by the same people and processes) and paid out of the same funds by the same processes?

      1. Oh. One more thing. The time sheet is labeled “INVOICE Contract Workers” but what say you SOP? Does this “Invoice” look like an invoice like you usually see? I see you call it a “timesheet” which seems like what it is rather an “invoice”. What did the DMR call it? Calling it an invoice doesn’t make it one, but did this type of “invoice” actually initiate the state payment system like a real invoice in a real accounting system?

        1. For contract work paid by the hour yes. To the extent these people were paid on a 1099-MISC it would be customary they be paid using the trade payable/cash disbursements processes rather than the payroll/cash disbursements process.

          The IRS has set forth an extensive list of factors to determine whether or not someone is an employee (Form W-2 with taxes and benefits) or truly an independent contractor (Form 1099-MISC). It is my considered professional opinion several state agencies are absolutely noncompliant with the guidance, just like with take home vehicles which was subject of an special advisory from OSA.

          To me the key is whether or not Ms. Hebert was paid for hours not worked, regardless of her employment classification.

          1. I too expected that the contract workers would be not be paid thorough the normal payroll process and accounts, but failed to state that clearly. Also was fishing to find out if this is known as I didn’t ever remember seeing that discussed wrt the contract employees.

            Also a big 10-4 on all the IRS factors, this is certainly nothing new except for those not in the know (but commonly violated by people who should know better imo.) In my non expert opinion, it seems possible the supervision issues (hours worked, supervision, tools and methods etc) might be questionable (from the IRS employee/contractor evaluation) in some of the previously described DMR contract work.

            As far as whether a contract worker could be getting paid for hours not worked, I take it there were no salaried contract workers authorized to be on the payroll at DMR. Perhaps they had some fancy and misleading term used to put friends and family contract workers temporarily on retainer? :-)

  6. It appears all 3 signatures on time sheets do not match the certified signature on the Circuit Clerk copy.

    I agree with Cloud Strife, DMR is continuing in the Walker’s footsteps except the high dollar employees are smarter and have the blessings of all concerned cronies, friends and politicians. Nothing will change at DMR!

  7. Please. A blonde videographer? Like, “my mistress was NOT on the payroll, she was a blonde videographer”. Famous Cad John Edwards. I only remember that a Ms Samantha got a big, huge grant for some drunken parties known as the “OS Songwriter’s Festival”, which was nothing but a pub crawl.

    I agree as to the above post regarding the HornE people and Jamie’s special blessed day persons. Hey, it’s OK to spy for Christ! When you look at where the big money went, Jamie and those wimps at the state level who were supposed to get our tax money back (like we don’t need it), have hidden a lot and let a lot go. Looks to me like Palazzo’s daddy got 1/3 of $830,000, which was worth going after, instead of the measley $3500 or whatever low level scammers got. Harris gets 4.4 million, plus 1/3 of the same deal as Palazzo, along with Reynolds (again over $250,000) plus his SECOND lot; those people who owned the St. Martin lot, and the Pass Christian purchase…that’s a lot of money all hidden in plain sight in real estate (Palazzo and Harris both own millions of dollars worth of real estate). I am guessing that for not cooperating, like it said in the paper, when Bill Walker gets out some real estate will be sold pretty quick to help a poor man out who was crushed by an overzealous DOJ.

  8. I know there are so many issues with the DMR even after so call changes in management, but you ought to see the critique of the Bay St. Louis Payroll Record Keeping and Reporting by their auditors, Wright, Ward, Hatten, and Guel. Here are a few excerpts:
    Conditions: During our testing of payroll, we noted that some time cards were not accurately completed to reflect days and times worked. In some cases, paid time off was not approved by department supervisors as required by City policy.
    Some personnel files did not have updated pay or department information for employees. Some employment applications were not signed or completed prior to employment. Information regarding termination was not documented within some of the files tested.
    State withholding was untimely paid and information obtained from City reports did not agree to what was reported for each period in the Mississippi Department of Revenue tax payment system.
    JOURNAL ENTRIES—During our testing, we noted that numerous journal entries were made to the general ledger. Most of these entries reclassified expenditues from one account to another. We were not able to obtain supporting detail to justify the reclassifications, and other journal entries did not have supporting documentation attached detaiing the reason for the entry. ( co-mingling of funds?!!)
    RESTRICTED DEBT FUNDS AND DEBT COVENANTS— During our testing of bonded debt, we noted ad-valorem receipts that should be restricted for bond debt principal and interest payments were not adequately segregated or maintained as required by the bonded debt covenants. ( Is this the reason for the Bond Restructure of nearly $400,000 and is costing the taxpayers in the Bay $198,000 to restructure with attorney fees, bank fees, escrow, etc.?!)
    UTILITY BILLS AND COLLECTIONS:
    cONDITIONS– During our testing of utility billings and collections, we noted several instances in which utility bills were mailed to customers with sigmificant errors in overstated bill amounts.
    We also noted that several City employees were past due in excess of two months on their utilitiy bill payments to the City, and cutoffs were not performed as stated in the City ordinance.
    We noted in our testing that some customers were several months late in payments, and cutoff procedures were not peformed, and and in other cases, late fees were waived.
    During our testin, we noted that one customer’s utilitiy bill was below the minimum bill amount, and it was determined that this individual was consuming several thousand gallons of water each month and was billed at zero gallons of usage.
    RENTAL OF CITY FACILITIES–( THIS IS MANAGED BY THE MAYOR’S DAUGHTER, MY NOTE, NOT THE AUDITOR’S)
    We noted that deposits were not collected for all events, and in some cases, deposits and payments made to the City did not have time to clear the issuer’s bank to ensure that the funds were available. There was inconsistent treatment for some required deposits on facility rentals. The cancellation policy is not enforced for all rental facilities.
    In some instances the Community Center is reserved or leased for an entire day or night and the lessee is only charged a minimum fee of $150 which is a two hour fee.
    The City’s website was not updated to reflect a cancellation to indicate that the facility was available to be rebooked for another event.
    During our testin of buildng rental fees, we noted that one lessee who rented a facilty on a monthly basis did not remit rent to the City for over three months.

  9. Watcher, I did not see DMR Director on the TV coverage of the Neshoba County Fair but I think that was ‘blow hard Wiggins’ in one photo. With all the hot air these politicians blow, they should hold the event in January and save on utilities.

    I wonder who directed or drove Thad Cochran to the event to make sure he got to the right place? I’m sure the Barbour’s handled this and his speech.

  10. Regarding Doug’s tweet. It should be interesting to see what Care Package #2 entails. The first care package delivered the goods. I wonder if the SH is going to post anything in the paper or have they been silenced by the regime?

    Either way, I have reason to believe and think the governor might be right along side of Pickering with this corrupt investigation.

    Teaming with the auditors and the DA to protect the politically connected is what I think.

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