In this week’s cover story on Seattle Public Utilities’ “Joe Millionaire,” Rick

In this week’s cover story on Seattle Public Utilities’ “Joe Millionaire,” Rick Anderson showed us how astoundingly simple stealing money from the government can be. As if to prove the point, the Washington State Auditor’s Office yesterday came out with two more reports on alleged fraud.All you have to do, apparently, is work for a taxpayer-supported institution and generate bills for goods and services never supplied–or at least never supplied to the intended beneficiaries. Voila! Money and a whole lot of other things–car repair services, tickets to Vegas, gas, meals out, massages–are yours for the taking. This is demonstrated most aptly by a case involving the city of Seattle, specifically its Human Services Department, which contracts with a non-profit called Senior Services to provide assistance to grandparents and other relatives caring for children. According to the auditor’s office, Senior Services’ former “kinship coordinator” Gregory Townsend submitted invoices for a variety of things that never went to caretakers at all, but to himself, friends and relatives. The King County Prosecutor’s office has already charged Townsend with theft in connection with this alleged deception. Charging papers say Townsend, as well as alleged cohort Arthur Wheeler, stole roughly $90,000 by creating a fictitious moving and hauling company that provided imaginary services to nonexistent clients. But that’s not all, says the new auditor’s office report. It found nearly $140,000 of additional funds that were either swindled or constituted “questionable expenditures.” Those include approximately $17,000 paid for repairs to Townsend’s own car, $3,000 in car payments that again benefited Townsend directly and $15,000 that was supposed to be rental assistance for caretakers but in reality went to Townsend’s friends. (In one case, the listed caretaker was someone who had been in prison for the last 14 years.)The questionable pay outs also included $3,600 in meals, $587 in massages and a $167 airplane ticket so that someone with the same last name as Townsend (the report doesn’t specify who) could accompany him on a business trip to Las Vegas. The auditor’s office forwarded the new information to the King County Prosecutor’s office, whose spokesperson Dan Donohoe says he does not yet know if new charges will result. Meanwhile, the state’s productive auditors documented yet another case of alleged fraud, this one at Harborview Medical Center. At the public hospital’s burn unit, according to the their report, a recreational therapist misappropriated almost $18,000 by submitting receipts for DVD players the employee had bought, ostensibly for patients to use during the stay. Funny thing was, 96 of the purchased 152 DVD players couldn’t actually be found in the burn unit, apparently because the therapist had returned the equipment and pocketed the funds. (Quick tip for would-be fraudsters: If you doctor the duplicate receipts you get when returning items, you can pretend you made new purchases and get paid twice.)Donohoe says no charges have yet been filed against the therapist.

More in News & Comment

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the primary sponsor of SB 5323, speaking on the bill. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Sabio-Howell)
Proposed law adds a fee to plastic bags at checkout

Senate passes bill to ban single-use plastic bags, place 8-cent fee on reusable plastic bags.

Renton Education Association board voted out by union

Union members use their power to remove leaders from office

In November 2019, Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which calls for $30 car tabs. Sound Publishing file photo
Republicans try to guarantee $30 car tabs amid court hangup

Lawmakers sponsor companion bills in the House and Senate.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of
King County could bump up Metro electrification deadlines

Transportation generates nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2020 State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 14. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Office of the Governor)
Gov. Inslee delivers State of the State Address

By Leona Vaughn, WNPA News Service OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee stood… Continue reading

A 50-minute film called “Spawning Grounds,” which documents the effort to save a freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish, is finally ready for its debut in North Bend on Jan. 18. (Screenshot from film)
Spawning Grounds: Lake Sammamish kokanee documentary premieres Jan. 18

The film tracks the ‘all hands on deck’ effort to save the little red fish from extinction.

Family, friends of paraplegic man killed in shootout with Federal Way police outraged over his death

Family says the 23-year-old man’s death was “senseless”; accuse police of excessive force and withholding information that the man used a wheelchair.

Most Read