The top budget official for Maryland’s second-largest school system was placed on administrative leave with pay Friday after school officials learned of an order from the Maryland Insurance Administration finding that he committed insurance fraud.
Colby R. White, the chief financial officer of the Prince George’s County Public School System, and his wife, Keisha, who works for the school district as an internal auditor, were ordered in August to pay $3,000 each for filing a fraudulent insurance claim for a wedding ring.
Max Pugh, a spokesman for the school system, said both employees were placed on administrative leave with pay, pending an internal investigation by the school district.
Chief Operating Officer Monica Goldson was named to temporarily assume White’s responsibilities.
Pugh said school officials, who learned of the order late Friday afternoon, are still deciding the scope of their inquiry.
“We’re trying to determine the breadth of the investigation,” Pugh said. “It just came upon us.”
The Whites did not return calls seeking comment. The suspensions were first reported by the Baltimore Sun.
Colby White, who earns $169,008 annually, has worked for the school system since 1995. His wife, Keisha, joined the school system in 2001 and has a salary of $95,540.
Last September, Colby White reported to Erie Insurance Exchange that his wife’s 1.5-carat diamond ring was lost. According to the order, he had filed a claim for the same ring five months earlier with Travelers Indemnity Insurance.
Colby and Keisha White signed documents that included an insurance fraud warning statement when they sent information to support their claim.
After Erie investigated the claim, it discovered that Travelers had paid White $16,313 for the lost ring. An investigator for Erie asked Colby White whether he had filed a previous claim for the ring, which a jeweler valued at $12,999 for an insurance replacement estimate. He denied it, according to the order.
“When confronted with evidence of the prior claim he had made to Travelers for the loss of the same ring, he admitted to making the prior claim and receiving compensation,” the order reads.
Colby White then withdrew the claim to Erie Insurance in November, according to the order.
White, who started at the school system as an accountant, was appointed by Schools Chief Kevin M. Maxwell in July, replacing Thomas E. Sheeran, the former acting chief financial officer. White previously served as the district’s budget director.
His July appointment was part of a personnel shake-up that has been evolving since Maxwell was brought on as the school district’s chief executive officer a little over a year ago.
Maxwell has created dozens of new positions and removed many members of the executive cabinet who were serving in acting capacities since former school superintendent William R. Hite took the top job in Philadelphia in 2012.
As chief financial officer, White is responsible for crafting the school district’s $1.8 billion budget and a staff of 175 employees. His office includes payroll, purchasing and worker’s compensation.
According to a partial biography provided by the school system, White has also worked in the county schools as a budget technician, a budget analyst, a supervising budget analyst and a data warehouse officer. Before coming to the school system, he worked for Cellular One and Hechinger’s, Pugh said.
A graduate of Prince George’s County public schools, he received three degrees from Bowie State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting; a master’s degree in management information systems; and a doctoral degree in educational leadership.