A D.C. firefighter who has been on paid administrative leave has been arrested just days after a FOX 5 investigation exposed an investigation which has been stalled for years. Firefighter Natalie Overton-Williams has been receiving her $72,000 a year salary even though she has not worked a day.
On Thursday, Overton-Williams was arrested and charged with felony fraud and at the center of an investigation surrounding CPR training at the D.C. Fire Training Academy.
In court, it was revealed the investigation was done two years ago, but no action was taken until our series of reports last week.
Overton-Williams remained quiet as she walked out of D.C. Superior Court with a hood over her face. The 43-year-old firefighter is now accused of pocketing money that belonged to the city.
Court documents outline an alleged scheme to defraud the city and at least six organizations, including the Coalition for the Homeless and the Universal Ballet.
Investigators say by December 2008, the Office of the Inspector General had concrete evidence of wrongdoing.
Last week, FOX 5 first shed light on investigation that was put on hold for two years. These internal documents show Overton-Williams had been on paid leave possibly as far back as May 2007 while D.C. Fire and EMS sat on her discipline case. During that time, she may have earned as much as $255,000.
Last week, city leaders were fuming.
"If there was some wrongdoing done, they ought to identify it and discipline and move on, instead of having this just languish forever,” said D.C. Council Member Phil Mendelson. “That department is fraught with overtime management problems and when you have someone on administrative leave, it means that somebody else has to backfill the position and we're paying overtime for that.”
In court, prosecutors outlined the alleged scheme. These documents show Overton-Williams allegedly conducted CPR classes while on the clock as a D.C. firefighter. The documents say instead of turning the money for the CPR classes over to the city, she allegedly pocketed the money for herself. Receipts show she allegedly deposited more than $3,000 into her own bank account.
The scheme allegedly took place from March 2007 to August 2008.
Insiders wonder why D.C. Fire supervisors at the training academy never once asked the question: Where was the money when Overton-Williams would return from training?
A source directly involved in the investigation told FOX 5 last week there was a reason why no one moved on the case. The high ranking source told FOX 5, “The investigation revealed some very damaging misuse of money. Once she was on leave, the investigation revealed that a whole lot of people, including high ranking officials, knew what was going on and stood on the sidelines and watched," said the source in an exclusive interview.
Prosecutors say Overton-Williams initially said she was providing training as part of her own private business, but timesheets show all the training took place while she was on the clock being paid as a firefighter. At this point, you'd expect her to be switched from paid leave to enforced leave with no pay. So far, the fire department has not taken any action on her status.
She was released on her own personal recognizance and will reappear in court on January 5, 2011. Maximum penalty for the felony fraud charge is 10 years and/or a fine.
KDFW FOX 4
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