Conceding its hands were tied, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) dismissed the case against Public Works Employee, Liberty Perez, who admitted to defrauding the local and federal government of highway funds by illegally collecting overtime money.
The verdict, handed down last Sept. 23, means Perez will get her job back and almost a year of backpay, who along with Josephine Torres and Danilo Galiza, were accused of collecting overtime pay in 2006 by falsifying overtime documents.
The commission said “the broad, sweeping language” of the 2008 stipulation between the defendant and the Department of Public Works (DPW) tied CSC’s hands on the case.
“We read this as the type of boilerplate language involved in a ‘global’ settlement where all matters are put to rest,” the commissioners wrote. They said that if the CSC has a “strong policy” in favor of upholding settlement agreements and that not doing so would discourage employees from settling their cases.
“Still, had management wanted to keep the avenue open, it had multiple options in how to proceed in 2008,” the CSC reminded DPW. “They could have avoided global language, they could have specified exemptions for subsequent convictions, they could have not settled the case and pursued it,” the ruling read.
Perez and DPW signed a stipulation after the defendant was fired in April 2008. She was facing charges in local court, which were later dropped.
The agreement allowed Perez to return to her old job and receive back wages. It notes its purpose was to “fully, finally and completely resolve all disputes between them regarding these matters.”
Under the stipulation, the government of Guam paid $38,000 in backpay, including attorney’s fees to Perez. She was vindicated after the Superior Court dropped the charges of fraud lodged against her.
The DPW said it would appeal the decision of the Superior Court of Guam.
The fourth defendant was cleared of all charges at a trial.
Prosecutors alleged that DPW staff did maintenance work at the department’s compound under the guidance of the defendants, which wouldn’t have been eligible for overtime.
When they tried to claim it as overtime, prosecutors alleged, the supervisors, including Perez and Galiza, reportedly instructed the staff to falsify their documents so they could get paid.
In April 2012, Galiza admitted to fraud, while Torres and Perez, in April 2014, admitted to knowing about the scheme, but failing to report it.
In her plea agreement, Perez admitted receiving overtime pay in the amount of not less than $9,000 that she obtained through false and inaccurate information she stated in her time sheets.
Torres admitted that between Oct. 1, 2006 and March 21, 2007, she obtained overtime compensation by means of making false reports on her time sheets, charging the federal government the amount of $7,500 for overtime pay./The Junction News Team