A former employee of the Arizona Department of Economic Security has pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to accepting bribes and providing confidential information that helped a collection agency recover almost $1 million in unpaid debts.
Leslie Nelson is facing 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of bribery. Nelson admitted taking $26,000 in bribes from an employee of Professional Collection Consultants in exchange for wage and salary information for thousands of individuals. The agency used the information to determine whether to file suit against an individual with an unpaid debt.
Professional Collection Consultants, which is now out of business, was previously ordered to pay a $350,000 fine and forfeit nearly $950,000. Michael Flowers, the employee of the agency who paid the bribes, was sentenced to three years of probation.
Flowers provided the Social Security numbers of individuals in its collection portfolio to Nelson, who, in his role at the Department of Economic Security, had access to state and federal databases that included wage and employment information on individuals nationwide. Nelson shared the information in those databases with Flowers, who received a 10% commission on everything the agency collected.
The bribes helped the agency recover $950,000 during the first eight months of 2013. Nelson said he accepted payments for nearly three years, between September 2010 and August 2013.