Randall Nelson Whited is the former Austin, Texas library employee accused of stealing more than one million dollars worth of supplies in order to resell the items online. Whited used city-issued credit cards to steal $1.3 million worth of printer toner over a 12-year period, according to a report from the Austin City Auditor.
Investigators said Whited was able to pull this off for more than a decade due to a lack of oversight at the Austin Public Library, the auditor said. Two of Whited’s former direct supervisors are no longer working for the library.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Whited Had Access to 10 Library Credit Cards
The Office of the City Auditor says Whited began stealing from the Austin Public Library as early as 2007. He was hired that year as an Accounting Associate. The accused theft went unnoticed for more than a decade until the auditor’s office received a tip in March 2019 that Whited had been stealing printer toner.
Whited had access to ten library credit cards. Eight were vendor-specific and two were assigned directly to Whited, according to the auditor’s report. Between 2007 and 2019, Whited used the cards to buy $1.5 million worth of printer toner. But the auditor found that the public library would have needed only $150,000 worth of toner for that time period, based on printer usage.
Investigators said Whited was caught on surveillance footage moving boxes of toner from the library to his car several times in 2019. He often went to work early in order to move the product before other library employees arrived.
The Austin City Auditor found evidence Whited was reselling the toner to online vendors. According to the report, Whited mailed 60 packages of toner to an online seller over just four days in October 2017. The vendor confirmed the sale to investigators but did not disclose how much money Whited had received for the toner.
Investigators said Whited also used city credit cards to buy at least 18,000 worth of electronics such as videogames, a drone, robotic vacuums, and virtual reality headsets. The City Auditor also analyzed $140,000 worth of purchases between February 2017 and July 2019 but was unable to determine how many of the purchases were fraudulent.
2. Whited Frequently Shipped Items Directly to His Home Address & His Supervisors Did Not Appear to Notice the Budget for Office Supplies Had Quadrupled
There were plenty of clues that something nefarious was going on for years, according to the City Auditor report. The library’s office supply budget was about $50,000 per year. But between 2015 and 2017, the library dramatically overspent in this area. Investigators found that in 2015, the library spent more than $242,000 on office supplies.
Former Financial Manager Victoria Rieger was one of Whited’s direct supervisors. The City Auditor noted the following in the report:
When asked whether this four-fold spending raised any concerns, Rieger said she was not concerned if individual categories were overspent, as long as APL’s overall budget was not overspent. Also, Rieger stated that she would not look for overages unless something was “out of whack.” McBee, who oversees the Library’s financial services division, said that she does not conduct budget monitoring and noted that is the job of her finance staff. She said that if there were significant budget issues, she “assumed [Rieger] would tell me.” Had APL’s finance staff looked into this annual overspending, they may have uncovered Whited’s fraudulent purchases.
Whited also shipped items directly to his home address. Receipts that listed his home and personal email address were all approved by superiors. According to the report, Reiger told investigators “she did ‘not recall ever seeing receipts with [orders of] supplies,’ and ‘just approved’ the transactions. Rieger also admitted that she did not look for shipping addresses during her review of transactions because she did not know the addresses of all the library branches.” The auditor included in the report that in certain cases, Whited was able to approve his own purchases.
According to Fox 7 Austin, the Austin Public Library has since cut down on issuing credit cards to employees and updated its policies in order to better watch for fraud in the future. Library director Roosevelt Weeks said in a statement to the outlet, “We appreciate the work of the Auditor’s Office on this investigation and accept their findings. We take fraud, waste, and abuse seriously, and while participating in the investigation we began taking immediate steps to address systemic deficiencies.” KVUE-TV also reported the library planned to increase the frequency of departmental audits.
3. Whited Was Arrested More Than a Year After He Resigned From the Library
Whited resigned from the Austin Public Library in August 2019. According to the City Auditor, he faced termination for an “unrelated issue” but he quit rather than wait to be fired.
The City Auditor’s office referred the case to the Austin Police Department after completing the investigation. According to Travis County court records, the indictment against Whited was filed on September 8. The arrest warrant was executed on September 22. Whited was arrested and booked into the Hays County Jail. Inmate records on Vinelink show he was released the following day.
Whited faces a first-degree felony theft charge. His attorney, William Hines, told KXAN-TV, “We are investigating the allegations and evaluating all options under these difficult circumstances.”
4. Whited Was Arrested on Multiple Theft Charges Dating Back to the 1980s But Repeatedly Cleared Criminal Background Checks While Employed at the Library
Whited has been arrested on theft charges before. A search of online records on InstantCheckmate shows Whited was arrested in October 1984 for “theft by appropriation” and larceny. He was convicted in September 1985 and sentenced to six months probation. It’s unclear how much he had to pay in fines; the record merely states “The Monetary Amount to BE Paid IS a Combination of Fine and Court Costs.”
Whited was arrested on July 30, 1985, for burglary at a “non-residence.” He was picked up again for burglary on February 28, 1986. He was convicted, but it’s unclear how long of a sentence he served. The record shows the maximum jail sentence was 150 days and probation.
There was an arrest for aggravated theft of an item worth more than $750 on January 24, 1989, and another arrest for theft on November 19, 1993. Whited was convicted in both cases.
According to the Statesman, the city of Austin runs criminal background checks every two years on employees whose jobs involve “financial responsibility.” A city spokesperson told the newspaper, “During Mr. Whited’s tenure with the city, five criminal background investigations were conducted for financial responsibilities, showing no convictions within the last 10 years.”
5. Whited Is Also a Licensed Cosmetologist, Online Records Show
In addition to his 12 years working at the Austin Public Library, online records suggest Whited also works in the beauty industry. According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, there is a Randall Nelson Whited in the system who is a licensed manicurist. The record shows the current license expires in 2022.
A search of online records shows Whited has been a licensed cosmetologist since at least 2011. The address listed in connection to the license is in Kyle, Texas. The Austin City Auditor report had Whited’s street address blacked out but the report did state that he lived in Kyle. Kyle is located in Hays County about 22 miles south of Austin.