by Max Brantley
Thomas James Braumuller, former fire chief at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, has pleaded guilty to overtime fraud. He billed the government for more than $133,000 in bogus overtime in a job that already paid him $115,000 a year.
He was chief from January 2009 to March 2011. He'll be sentenced later and could receive up to five years in prison.
Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced today that Thomas James Braumuller, age 54, the former chief of the fire department at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, pled guilty today to a one-count indictment, charging him with presenting a false claim to the United States to collect overtime pay for time he did not work.
Thomas James Braumuller was a firefighter with the Department of Defense since 1988. He began working at the Pine Bluff Arsenal’s fire department in May 2004 and was promoted to Chief of the fire department at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in 2006. As Chief, Mr. Braumuller received approximately $115,000 in base pay annually, not including unscheduled overtime.
From January 2009 through March 2011, Mr. Braumuller submitted false time and attendance records to collect overtime pay for time he had not worked. The approximate total value of the unscheduled overtime claimed by Mr. Braumuller during this period is $133,974.45. Mr. Braumuller resigned in March 2011 as fire chief.
“It is a travesty that someone holding a position of leadership would lie for his own personal gain,” stated Thyer. “Thankfully, this is an aberration and not the norm for federal employees. There are many dedicated federal employees who work hard each day and honestly earn their publicly funded salaries. For those who choose to cheat the taxpayers, as in this case, we will hold them accountable for their dishonesty.”
At the plea hearing held before the Honorable J. Leon Holmes, Braumuller admitted that, from 2009 through early 2011, while he was fire chief, he falsified some of his time and attendance records by reporting overtime he did not work and used the money to pay medical bills and other personal expenses.
The statutory penalty for presenting a false claim to the United States is not more than five (5) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Braumuller remains free on his own recognizance pending sentencing, which will be set by the Court at a later date.