IA: Former chief's assistant used supervisor's credentials to approve her timecard

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Elise Kaplan, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
·3 min read
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Apr. 8—ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An internal investigation found the executive assistant to the former chief of the Albuquerque Police Department had been using her supervisor's login credentials to approve her time card and overtime.

However, the investigation could not determine whether she had worked those hours.

Paulette Diaz was hired by Michael Geier when he was appointed to be chief in 2017. She was transferred to the Animal Welfare Department after she alleged that then-chief of staff John Ross had improperly purchased a laptop computer, gotten a pay raise without Geier's approval and engaged in other unprofessional conduct. An internal investigation cleared Ross of all major wrongdoing, but both he and Diaz left the department after Geier was asked to retire.

The internal investigation into Diaz began in August, about a month after she made the complaint against Ross — her supervisor.

Thomas Grover, Diaz's attorney, said she will be filing a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that she was retaliated against.

He said not only did Diaz work all the hours she claimed but she worked even more hours that she did not claim. And, he said, both Ross and Geier had provided her with their credentials in order to approve timecards.

"The notion that she did this without the knowledge, permission and approval by Ross and by Geier is absolutely absurd," Grover said.

The investigation report, which was provided to the Journal by APD, sustained the findings that Diaz had used Ross's credentials to log onto Kronos — the electronic timecard system for civilian employees. It found she changed her clock-out times and/or approved overtime 179 times between April 2019 and September 2019.

This determination was made because the IP address was the same when Diaz clocked out or logged overtime as when those hours were approved.

"This indicates Paulette Diaz, again by her admission, was utilizing her computer to enter timecard entries and would subsequently access the Kronos program, minutes later, from the same device with the manager functionality (C/S Ross' credentials) to approve the entries," the investigator wrote. "C/S Ross stated he did not permit Ms. Diaz to use his credentials to gain access to the Kronos program to edit/modify her timecard in any way."

The investigation report states that once Ross was notified of this he changed his password and the modifications to Diaz's timecard stopped.

"The investigation did not explore whether or not Ms. Diaz worked all of the times she claimed," the report states. "This is why a supervisor is required to verify the authenticity of the clock-out / overages worked."

A city performance audit of the Albuquerque Police Department's overtime practices and internal controls also mentioned Diaz, although not by name. It said the civilian employee had logged 282 hours of overtime or $8,830 in about seven months. Diaz's salary was $60,000 a year, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.

Gallegos said he doesn't know how often Internal Affairs investigates civilian employees but he knows it has happened in the past.

For his part, Grover questioned why APD released the investigation to the media at all.

"We're talking about the state's largest police department preemptively releasing an IA report against a secretary," Grover said. "Yeah, they can bring it and they better get ready."