(Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, WA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 13--A Department of Energy employee whose job involved getting surplus equipment from other government agencies has pleaded innocent to allegations he took more than $25,000 in computer gear by hiding transfer documents.
Clayton Seth Acheson, 33, is accused of giving several different stories to investigators, including that the paperwork "must have gotten blown away with the wind" and that he forgot his storage key.
The Richland man faces trial Sept. 29 in Benton County Superior Court for first-degree theft and forgery.
Acheson was a property management administrator who would locate the surplus equipment and arrange for a transfer to DOE.
On April 28 he went to the Umatilla Chemical Depot in Hermiston to pick up a computer server worth $7,207, a backup computer appliance valued at $17,839 and six computers.
However, when he checked the items into the DOE Hanford Office of River Protection, he only noted five computers.
A co-worker asked Acheson about the discrepancy and he responded that he "only picked up five computers and that someone else probably got the other one," court documents said.
When the co-worker then asked for the paperwork showing what was transferred by the depot, Acheson turned over a document showing five computers.
The actual depot documents listed five computers on one page and the sixth on a second page, in addition to a third page with Acheson's signature for the Dell PowerEdge server and the six-bay SATA backup appliance, court documents said.
A review of Acheson's work computer by a DOE forensic expert allegedly showed the "requisition and invoice/shipping document" had been altered.
A search of Acheson's home turned up a MacPro computer that he admitted taking and not turning in to his work, documents said.
He "claimed he didn't steal anything but that it was a set of circumstances which looked bad," documents said.
Prosecutors say Acheson admitted to altering the records from the depot but claimed that was a standard practice. He also claimed that two of the pages from the depot blew away, and said he did not transfer the server and appliance into his office because he forgot his storage key in a "series of events."
Acheson then ultimately admitted to hiding the equipment under an unused desk in the office reception area after his shift, court documents. However, he didn't produce those items until Richland police questioned him May 3, documents said.
Acheson is out on his personal recognizance and allowed to travel around Washington while the case is pending.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer
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