After Felon's Hiring, Department of Revenue Tightens Criminal Checks
Around the State
Amid an ongoing investigation into how a convicted felon was hired by the state Department of Revenue, the agency this week implemented new policies on criminal-background checks of new applicants and current employees.
As revealed last month by Sunshine State News, Deon McCrimmon was hired as a tax specialist at Revenue while she was serving probation for a federal wire fraud conviction in Georgia. Less than seven months prior to her hiring, McCrimmon had pleaded guilty to concealing her $139,169 back-tax bill with the IRS when she applied for a home loan.
While the inspector general's office at Revenue investigates the agency's conduct in hiring McCrimmon, department administrator Lisa Vickers announced new policies covering criminal-background checks.
Effective Oct. 1, current employees will undergo criminal history record rechecks every five years.
Employees working and living in Florida will have a Florida-only recheck. Employees working and living outside Florida will have a national recheck, including fingerprinting.
The department said 20 percent of its 5,100 employees will be rechecked every year, beginning with workers who have the oldest criminal history record checks on file.
"Failure to disclose a criminal history is considered a violation of Revenue's standards of conduct and may result in disciplinary action," the agency order stated.
As for new hires, the department directive said the new system's electronic fingerprinting system will be an improvement over the old paper fingerprint cards. Additionally, the agency said, "pre-employment criminal history record checks [will] reduce the risk of hiring a candidate who has a serious, undisclosed criminal background."
Comparing key provisions of the new policy with previous procedures, DOR spokeswoman Renee Watters said the new rules call for a pre-employment record check versus a record check at the time of employment, and that employee rechecks are to be conducted on all workers on a five-year recurring basis instead of occurring only at promotion, demotion, reassignment or transfer.
"The department continuously updates and improves policies and procedures with regard to criminal history records checks," Watters said.
But critics who blew the whistle on McCrimmon say the new policy has possible loopholes.
First, the exclusion of out-of-state background checks of employees living and working in Florida could overlook mischief beyond the border.
Second, the failure-to-disclose provision says only that disciplinary action "may" be imposed. Without the stronger legal term, "shall," the rule is left open to subjective interpretation and enforcement.
McCrimmon -- whose previous employment as a financial institutions examiner at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Georgia ended three months prior to her conviction -- has been "temporarily reassigned" by the Department of Revenue while the IG investigation is ongoing.
Garnering four promotions in five years, McCrimmon earns $43,701 annually as a "revenue administrator II." She lives in the Gadsden County town of Greensboro, where the federal government has a $24,775 lien on her home -- the exact amount she was ordered to pay in restitution for her Sept. 6, 2004, conviction.
Though it is unclear if McCrimmon disclosed her conviction on her original application to DOR in 2005, she listed it on a subsequent application for an internal promotion in 2010.
The DOR form, obtained by Sunshine State News, states:
"A 'YES' answer to these [criminal record] questions will not automatically bar you from employment. The nature, job-relatedness, severity and date of the offense in relation to the position for which you are applying are considered."
The Department of Revenue, which collects more than $30 billion in taxes and fees annually, is the state government's largest financial institution.
Contact Kenric Ward at email@example.com or at (772) 801-5341.