25 Investigates: Feds open audit into time card fraud at Boston-area postal facilities

The feds have opened an audit into time card fraud at more than a dozen Boston-area facilities at the troubled U.S. Postal Service and two local congressmen tell 25 Investigates they suspect this could be a nationwide postal problem.

The move by the USPS Office of the Inspector General comes after Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen first exposed in January the allegations that nearly 100 post office managers are suspected of cheating workers out of overtime pay.

It’s unclear why Boston managers would doctor postal workers’ time cards, but a similar scandal surfaced in 2016 at USPS facilities in Richmond, Virginia.

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In the Richmond case, postal managers got bonuses in exchange for keeping overtime costs down, according to a pending federal lawsuit.

U.S. representatives Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch have been sounding the alarm about the suspected time card cheating in letters to the USPS Inspector General since last year.

“The feeling we have is that this is not an isolated incident – that it affects a lot of working people,” Capuano told 25 Investigates.

In less than a three-year period, the congressmen say union leaders identified more than 7,000 cases of “time manipulations” resulting in nearly 4,000 missing work hours with 97 supervisors or managers suspected of cheating the system.

“I would be surprised if it were just our area,” said Lynch. “It seems like an incentive that's across the system and if there was some misconduct, it was probably wider spread.”

The scope of the suspected fraud is part of what Capuano says he hopes federal auditors can figure out.

“What are we talking about? Are we talking about 30 cents or $30 million or somewhere in between? Let’s get a better idea of how many people are involved,” said Capuano.

25 Investigates obtained letters from Capuano and Lynch – sounding the alarm to the USPS Inspector General as early as August.

Postal employees “were surprised to find several minutes of unpaid leave on their time sheets for times they were actually working, or would have had no reason to punch out,” Capuano and Lynch wrote in a letter dated Aug. 15.

The two congressmen followed up with another letter to the USPS Inspector General on Nov. 30, citing “a sense of urgency” to investigate the matter.

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