ATLANTA — A former high level state official is out of work and facing indictment -- accused of faking two pregnancies in order to collect thousands of dollars in leave pay she shouldn’t have received.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher found out Robin Folsom’s story began to unravel when a colleague spotted something baffling.
Folsom had an annual salary of about $100,000 as Director of External Affairs at Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA).
In her role, she supervised the agency’s marketing and media communications and had provided information to Channel 2 Action News during our 2020 investigation of a variety of problems at GVRA, including problems delivering services to clients.
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A four-count indictment obtained by prosecutors from the Georgia Attorney’s Office now accuses Folsom of faking two pregnancies to collect unjustified pay for family medical leave -- known as FMLA.
A surprised co-worker saw something suspicious and blew the whistle.
“When GVRA first sent us this case, we thought there had to be a misunderstanding. We couldn’t believe it,” State Inspector General Scott McAfee told Channel 2.
According to a new release from McAfee’s office, “OIG’s investigation revealed that in March 2021, a co-worker observed the lower portion of Folsom’s stomach ‘come away’ from her body and believed Folsom wore a fake pregnancy stomach.”
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A quick check of the internet turned up a large number of such devices or costumes available for as little as $90.
McAfee told Belcher that Folsom’s own agency played a critical role: “The GVRA employees, the human resources, just started putting two and two together. Things weren’t adding up, and thankfully they didn’t shrug it off. They realized that this was something that was more serious.”
That was last fall.
Folsom’s story began to unfold -- quickly. Investigators from the OIG questioned Folsom last October. She stuck to her story.
According to the indictment obtained by the AG’s Office, her story included the creation of a fake person named “Bran Otmembebwe” as the fake father of her fake children.
“We ultimately didn’t find any evidence that he existed. That’s why she’s also been charged with identity fraud,” McAfee said.
Investigators also found no evidence that Folsom had delivered children at Piedmont Hospital, as she claimed, and McAfee says other key records failed to support her claims of giving birth in July of 2020 and again in May of 2021.
Belcher asked about reviewing her medical records, which are normally protected by federal privacy laws.
But in a case where those records are critical to a fraud investigation, McAfee told Channel 2, “We obtained search warrants. We obtained subpoenas, and we received all those records in the lawful way, so that we could have this case buttoned up for prosecution.”
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Folsom resigned in October after the OIG’s investigators confronted her and she stuck to her story.
That story -- and its alleged lies -- is now central to her four-count indictment.
“We have to hold them (state workers) to a high standard of integrity, and when they sit down and have a conversation about statements they made and actions they’ve taken, they have to be honest,” McAfee said.
GVRA declined to comment other than to say that the agency notified the OIG as soon as GVRA suspected fraud.
Using her salary and looking at the length of time she received the questionable leave pay, we estimate the disputed amount was between $10,000 and $15,000.
Belcher was unable to reach Folsom for comment on this story.
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