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Hernando worker accused of grand theft in overtime case

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Sheriff's Office was searching late Thursday for Stephanie Anderson, a former secretary for the Hernando County Emergency Management department, to serve her with a warrant charging her with official misconduct and grand theft.

The charges stem from a criminal investigation alleging that between December 2006 and February, she falsified official payroll documents and was paid for overtime hours that she did not work.

Hernando detectives attempted to contact Anderson, 44, at her Beverly Hills home in Citrus County on Thursday afternoon but could not find her.

Anderson and her boss, Emergency Management director Tom Leto, were placed on paid administrative leave in late March after media reports that a criminal investigation was under way into payroll and overtime in that department. Anderson resigned several days later.

Leto is still on paid leave and county officials are reviewing an audit of his department conducted by the office of the clerk of the Circuit Court to determine their next move, which could come as early as today.

Payroll records requested by the St. Petersburg Times indicate that Anderson earned 12 extra weeks of pay through overtime claims in 2007, even though there were no major storms or other emergencies that year. Anderson's pay amounted to 94 percent of all of the overtime in 2007 for Emergency Management employees.

Anderson started with Hernando County in 2006 and was being paid $13.63 per hour. Since her hire, she has earned $7,943 in overtime.

This year, before she was placed on leave March 28, Anderson had already received a full week's worth of overtime pay, which, paid at time and a half, means an extra 60 hours of pay. No other Emergency Management employees had received overtime to that point this year.

All this came after Leto had issued a memo in April 2006 telling employees to all but eliminate overtime.

"Overtime from this point forward must be authorized by me in advance of an event with no exceptions,'' he wrote.

Under county rules calling for supervisors to approve employee time sheets each week, Leto would have had to sign off on Anderson's continued overtime.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando worker accused of grand theft in overtime case 04/24/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 27, 2008 2:11pm]

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