MSPB Denies Access to Voluntary Early Retirement to Employee Guilty of Embezzling Funds
On November 6, 2012, the Department of Agriculture proposed to indefinitely suspend an Area Director with the agency’s Rural Housing Service in Camden, Alabama in contemplation of an ongoing criminal investigation and the purported confession of the employee to the conduct at issue. On November 20, 2012, the employee pled guilty to a felony criminal charge related to embezzling $6,225,920.76 in government funds. On December 5, 2012, an email memorandum issued announcing the agency’s approval of an early buyout under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (“VERA”). But because the employee’s suspension had been effected on November 24, 2012, he did not have access to his agency email account and was unaware of the December 5th email memorandum about VERA. On December 18, 2012, the agency issued a proposed removal letter to the employee, and on December 21, 2012, the “window” for employees to apply for early retirement ended.