City Employee Embezzled Over $750,000: That’s a Lot of Cheddar

Nick Fishman

A Cincinnati city employee now stands accused of embezzling over $750,000 from the city’s employees union.  And like many similar situations before this and many that will occur after, the chain of events was entirely preventable.  The city failed to conduct an employment background check on Diana Frey which would have revealed a 1983 conviction for theft and numerous convictions for writing bad checks from between 1988 and 1990.

We’ve become so immune to these stories to the point that I rarely blog on them anymore.  However, in light of the EEOC’s recent hearing on the fairness of criminal background checks, I just can’t ignore this.

First, shame on the city of Cincinnati for failing to protect their employees.  Now, for the EEOC.  If it were up some of their commissioners, those employers smart enough to conduct due diligence on potential employees would not be able to consider this information.  Why?  Because these events occurred as far back as 28 years ago, they believe that such records cannot adequately predict future behavior.  Well, they sure would have helped here.  Anyone care to disagree?

In Diana Frey Case, Everybody Dropped the Ball

Diana Frey’s alleged embezzlement of more than $750,000 from the Cincinnati city employees union she created is a story of the failure of effective oversight at every stage for nearly two decades.

Despite clear warning signs, agencies and individuals inside and outside City Hall responsible for overseeing Frey or her union repeatedly failed to take steps that could have averted the alleged wrongdoing or at least exposed it years earlier – potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Those failures, stretching from before she began her city career to her indictment, include oversight breakdowns in which:

A criminal record and a falsified job application did nothing to slow Frey’s movement through a succession of city jobs in the 1990s.

• Read documents related to Frey

The U.S. Department of Labor, which has responsibility for protecting union assets, began looking closely at CODE only after the union’s treasurer tipped it off early this year.


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