Reporters in Prince George’s County, Md. have been investigating the case of a parking enforcement officer who allegedly wrote $2,000 worth of fake tickets.
The officer in question, Antoine Budd, was hired in September of 2010. During his first year on the job, he wrote 4,188 parking tickets, but in 2012, he only wrote 1,879 tickets. This was the first red flag indicating that the parking enforcement officer wasn’t doing his job correctly.
Then, in June of 2013, 10 people complained that Budd had falsely issued them tickets for parking in a fire lane. Each ticket was worth $200, and all 10 were suspicious because the photos that Budd attached to them were completely black. One might assume that Budd created the false tickets because he realized that his employer was catching on to the fact that he wasn’t doing his job correctly, and he wanted to create an illusion of productivity. According to Prince George’s County Revenue Authority Director Peter Shapiro, there is no clear reason why Budd chose parking in a fire lane as the offense for his fake tickets, seeing as there is no quota system or other incentive related to issuing high-cost tickets.
Budd has been charged with 41 counts of crimes including perjury, forgery and counterfeiting, issuing false documents, and misconduct in office. The Prince George’s County Revenue Authority fired him in June.
In the course of the investigation into Budd’s criminal activities, it came out that his employer did not conduct a criminal background check on him prior to hiring. The Revenue Authority conducted what they called a “background check,” which consisted of calling personal references and former employers. They also checked his driving record and did not discover any points on Budd’s license.
Had the Revenue Authority conducted a comprehensive background check on Budd, they likely would have uncovered a lengthy history of involvement in civil, criminal, and traffic cases. Since 1995, Budd has been involved in 12 such cases, including two charges for theft, as well as charges of speeding, driving with a suspended license, and second-degree assault.
Conducting a criminal background check would have been easy, affordable, and incredibly valuable in this case. Budd’s employer could have used a national background check tool like US OneSEARCH from backgroundchecks.com, which compares an individual’s name and date of birth against a collection of over 450 million public criminal records taken from state and local databases across the country.
When informed of Budd’s criminal history, Shapiro was quick to point out that the two theft charges were over 10 years old and the charges for the assault were dropped. His point seems to be that knowing the results of the background check at the time of Budd’s hiring might not have altered the county’s decision to hire him. Hiring any employee is always a leap of faith, because past behavior is not a guarantee of future behavior. However, this is no reason to skip the criminal background check.
Shapiro says that in the wake of the Budd case, his department will be reviewing their pre-employment background check policies with an eye to making checks more stringent.
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Author: Michael Klazema