HR Strange But True!
September 27, 2007

Meet Robert Joseph Thom, a federal employee who is facing fraud charges after fellow federal workers donated nearly 1,000 hours of leave because they thought he had cancer.

A federal grand jury has indicted Thom on 10 counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors allege that he submitted false documents about his medical condition to the United States Geological Survey in order to apply for the federal voluntary leave transfer program.

Thom was working as an IT specialist at the United States Geological Survey in Southern California when he applied for the leave transfer program, submitting medical documents in which he stated that he had undergone "multiple urgent surgeries" for malignant cancer, prosecutors allege.

After he submitted the documents, the agency placed him on the federal agency's national list to receive donations of annual leave time from other federal employees, prosecutors allege.

Thirty agency employees stepped forward to donate 995 hours of annual leave so that Thom could continue to receive a federal government salary and benefits, prosecutors say. Prosecutors estimate that the value of the leave was more than $40,000.

The indictment also alleges that Thom submitted false periodic progress reports about his post-surgery recovery including that, per doctor orders, he needed more time off work to "remain home" and "get plenty of rest."

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that the employees who donated leave to Thom will get it back.

Sources: Justice Department and the San Diego Union Tribune

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