Background check loophole exposed - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Background check loophole exposed


Fox Undercover is raising questions about the way Massachusetts does background checks on its employees.

The state only checks to see if someone has a criminal record in Massachusetts, so out- of-state convictions are not picked up.

Fox Undercover found the glaring loophole twice this year, discovering the state and one of its contractors hired people with serious criminal records.

Background checks were done in both cases, but the criminal records weren't discovered because the people committed the crimes in other states.

The most recent example came to light last month when Fox Undercover found a wanted fugitive working for the state contractor Maximus.

Maureen Simonetti pleaded no contest to grand theft charges in Florida in 2002, and then took off without paying back the $21,000 she stole from a former employer.

Despite her record, Maximus hired her, allowing her to work as a manager with access to the personal information of hundreds of thousands of people on MassHealth, including their social security numbers.

Maximus fired Simonetti last month after Fox Undercover confronted her about being a wanted woman.

The company says Simonetti did not indicate she lived or worked in Florida on her application, so it did not check Florida criminal records when it did her background check, even though the company admits her Florida work history was listed on her resume.

Charles Tatum is another example of a missed criminal past.
The former court officer in Brockton is now a Level 3 sex offender who is charged with two counts of rape and is scheduled to go on trial this week.

The Trial Court hired him despite his criminal record which includes 1986 convictions in South Carolina of sexual conduct, peeping Tom, and burglary charges.

The trial court checked a database that lists court activity from Massachusetts only.

A CORI check is another type of background check often used by the state, and it also only picks up in state convictions.
“We're the second chance state. Come here and you know, we'll overlook any kind of criminal activity you've ever had and we'll give you a second chance. But in the name of what? In the name of our safety?” asked victim advocate Laurie Myers who believes Massachusetts needs to do more to protect the public.

“Common sense dictates that we should do criminal background checks to see if people have been convicted of crimes. Well why not take it a step further and do a national background check?” said Myers.

States can conduct national background checks through the F.B.I, but they have to pass a law in order to do it.

Right now, Massachusetts only does national background checks on people applying for licenses to deal or carry firearms.

An F.B.I. spokesman tells Fox Undercover, "While most all of the other state legislatures have enacted numerous statutes to background various categories, such as teachers, medical professionals, child care workers and operators, elder care, real estate industry, firemen, emergency medical technicians, etc., Massachusetts has not done so. The reason for not enacting this enabling legislation would have to be answered by the appropriate Massachusetts officials."

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo refused to comment on whether they'd like to close the background check loophole, but Governor Patrick's administration appears to taking the issue seriously.

A spokesman tells us, "The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security is working closely with numerous state agencies across the Patrick-Murray administration to identify ways to make national background checks a feature of the screening process for those workers in particular that work with our most vulnerable populations as a supplement to the CORI checks that already are in place."

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