OTTAWA — Tori Artman took the stand Tuesday and said she had no clue her timesheets were being padded with overtime, much of it for work that she admitted wasn’t done.
The former deputy auditor for La Salle County now needs a jury to believe it was auditor Jody Wilkinson who inflated the timesheets without her consent. If a jury doesn’t buy it, Artman could face up to 7 years in prison.
Closing arguments were scheduled for 11 a.m. today in the second of three cases stemming from an alleged overtime scam at the county auditor’s office. Over a roughly 10-month span, Artman and fellow deputy Pamela Wright allegedly pocketed less than $1,800 apiece for work that prosecutors allege wasn’t completed. Wilkinson was acquitted of companion charges in mid-June.
Tuesday, prosecutors called two police officers and a union representative to recount conversations they had with Artman when the overtime, logged between fall 2016 and summer 2017, was called into question. All testified that Artman acknowledged she was remitted for the work but, by her rough estimate, only about half of the work was completed.
“I told him (the Ottawa police detective) the overtime was not my idea and I don’t know how it got there,” Artman testified.
During cross-examination, prosecutor George Mueller scoffed at the notion that a finance professional (Artman holds an accounting degree) could have been allotted overtime compensation without noticing.
Artman replied that she didn’t have ready access to payroll records and that she only intermittently examined the payroll summaries received after payday, when the money goes into her bank account via direct deposit.
And defense attorney Todd Martin argued that the process of submitting timesheets made it virtually impossible for Artman to have falsified overtime claims. During the pay periods now in dispute, overtime was often completed in different color inks than Artman used to complete her forms, indicating it was someone else who marked up the forms.
Who, Martin argued, had access to the timesheets before they were submitted to payroll? Jody Wilkinson.
On the stand, Artman confirmed that she offered to make restitution when she gave her statements to Ottawa police and to her union representative.
“Did anybody ever ask you to pay the money back?” Martin said.
“No,” Artman answered.
A verdict was expected late this afternoon.