A news report in the Asheville Citizen-Times said Laura Masters was charged with submitting claims and receiving payments for a hot tub, mattress and tutoring lessons for her daughter in 2008 and 2009. Masters received a six-month suspended jail sentence, 24 months of supervised probation and 72 hours of community service on seven counts of obtaining property by false pretenses and five counts of forgery.
The newspaper said Masters is the second of four city Human Resources Department workers charged with fraud to plead guilty. Robin Nix, who was assistant director of the department, pleaded guilty in August and received a suspended sentence. Still facing resolution of their cases are Lisa Roth, the department’s former director, and Liz Oldre, a former benefits specialist.
According to a separate account of the case from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the charges were filed in March 2010 after the Asheville City Police investigated allegations that several members of the city’s HR staff of 12 were abusing the city’s Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program.
The city’s FSA plan was self-administered by the HR department. The city immediately fired all four of the HR staffers and outsourced the FSA plan when the accusations of misconduct and fraud came to light, according to SHRM.