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Sunday Edition – Workplace Felonies: The Companies We Work For Have An Intangible Right To ‘Honest Services’

Featured / Sunday Edition / Virgin Islands / March 15, 2015

How many hours a day at work do you spend posting and commenting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? Have you called in sick when you weren’t sick at all? Have you stolen company paper, pens, notebooks, and pencils for your personal use? Have you billed your client for eight hours of work, when you only worked five? Have you done personal work like writing a speech or fundraising for your fraternity or sorority on company time? Has your company reimbursed you for expenses you did not pay for? Have you used your company’s corporate card to buy gas for your personal vehicle?

Several of these examples clearly rise to theft and several rise to a “Scheme or Artifice to Defraud.” The companies we work for have an intangible right to our “honest services.”

Work starts at 8 a.m. You arrive at 8:15 a.m., fix a cup of coffee, bush tea, or hot chocolate. You sit at your desk at 8:30 a.m. and log on to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You scroll through your news feeds, review, and reply to your notifications and in-box messages. You finally get around to company work at 10 a.m., but you are distracted because you are tweeting, commenting on Facebook, and in some cases, warring on social media on company time.

You leave for lunch at noon, return at 1:20 p.m. and the cycle continues; yet, of course, you want your full paycheck at the end of two weeks and at the end of the month.

While some of us may consider these examples to be trivial, and others may even argue them down as vague and murky because everyone does it, the Honest Services Fraud Statute criminalizes “a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”

So, if you find yourself lying to your employer and manager about being sick when you are healthy and at home gossiping on the phone, posting pictures and commentary on social media, and out shopping; or if you find yourself receiving a paycheck every pay period, when you abuse the rules, and spend extended and over extended hours at work on social media, and doing everything else but company work, and billing clients and the government for eight hours a day, when you have worked considerably less than that, these actions criminalize you as an employee lying to his employer.

The government and companies are doubling down. Don’t stamp yourself among employees who are racking up permanent criminal records on company time without even knowing it.

[944 Proof of Scheme and Artifice to Defraud]


Image Credit: Trading Insider

Teri Helenese
In April 1994, Ebony magazine dubbed Teri Helenese a Rising Star. In 1997, the same magazine included her on its list of the Top 25 Accomplished Women. And in 1998, she was recognized by another well-known magazine, Cosmopolitan, as a Leader to Watch. In less than two decades, Teri Helenese has met and even surpassed these expectations. Her career has spanned executive functions across the private and public sectors. In every setting—from St. Croix to Washington, D.C. and from local to global enterprise—she has made lasting, impactful change and she continues to be a rain-maker and a changer-maker today. For Helenese's full bio, go here.

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March 15, 2015