A tech-savvy thief stole more than $640,000 from the Education Department, a shocking example of how the agency's lax oversight has cost taxpayers, a special investigation shows.
Albert Attoh hacked into the Education Department's petty cash account and gave several others the codes so they could pay for their student loans, gas bills and purchases at Home Depot.
The users then paid off Attoh.
Attoh, who was not a city employee, was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $275,000 in April for the theft, which occurred between 2003 and 2007.
"It is difficult to understand how the (Education Department] accumulated years of account statements, reflecting hundreds of thousands of public dollars spent to pay bills, but did not review them," Special Commissioner Richard Condon wrote in a report released yesterday.
Education Department officials said they had fixed the problem. "Once we became aware of these activities in February 2007, we put in place a tight set of controls and processes to ensure the security of petty cash accounts," said Education Department spokesman Danny Kanner.
But Condon noted an incident just last year when a clerk stole more than $60,000 because no one looked at statements that showed his personal purchases, including global travel with his family.