Audit shows state employees sold fake ID cards, misappropriated funds

October 19, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A state audit made public yesterday found indications that state workers had created and sold phony Maryland government identification cards and misappropriated related cash collections in the Department of General Services.

The legislative audit said DGS had failed to take "appropriate action" to correct significant problems with the security cards and that the department and the Maryland State Agency for Surplus Property had shoddy accountability and control over cash collections.

The Department of Legislative Services publicized the fake ID scam after state auditors examined DGS records from September 2000 to November of last year. The state police and attorney general also examined other fiscal areas of DGS, which oversees state buildings and real estate activities, and disposes of used property.

In May last year, the audit office received a report through its fraud hot line on fictitious cards being issued to unauthorized people. The cards enabled holders to bypass metal detectors at most state buildings, and in many cases obtain free transportation on buses and the Metro system in the city, according to state officials.

The audit also reported that General Services failed to take action after becoming aware of the problems in June of last year. An investigation by its police force "documented an employee's admission to a theft of cash receipts from the sale of replacement IDs and an allegation that another employee created and sold about one hundred fictitious ID cards," the report said.

The head of General Services said that because of the findings, more than 20,000 state employees, legislators, media members and others with access to key buildings including the State House will get new cards by January. The Board of Public Works should approve a contract for new security cards Nov. 3.

"It was a glitch, an oversight, and we have the problem well in hand," General Services Secretary Boyd K. Rutherford said last night.

"When the ID system was set up, it predated the 9/11 attacks," Rutherford said. "The fraudulent cards were a glitch in the system and did not represent an actual threat."

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