As a maintenance worker at a SLC apartment complex, April Swenson-Shaw had unsupervised access to resident’s homes.

So imagine residents’ surprise when they learned that she had a lengthy criminal history after she was arrested for stealing from residents and other offenses.

Previous Criminal History

Property managers say a third party a criminal background check was conducted on April Ann Swenson-Shaw by a third party, however “the results came back clean before she was hired.”

Imperative ran our Critical Criminal Background Investigation on Shaw and here’s what we uncovered:

2012
  • View the full report

    Convicted of unlawfully using a financial transaction card

  • Convicted of two charges of forgery
  • Convicted of unlawful acquisition, possession, or transfer of a financial transaction card
  • Convicted of theft
  • Charged with unlawful acquisition, possession, or transfer of a financial transaction card
  • Charged with theft by receiving stolen property
  • Charged with burglary
2016
  • Convicted of retail theft (shoplifting)
  • Convicted of using or possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Convicted of possession or use of a controlled substance
  • Charged with possession of another’s identification documents
  • Charged with possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Charged with failure to stop at the command of a law enforcement officer
  • Charged with possession of drug paraphernalia (again)
2017
  • Convicted of retail theft (with prior offenses)
  • Convicted of escaping from official custody
  • Convicted of identity fraud
  • Convicted of possession or use of a controlled substance
  • Charged with giving false personal information to a peace officer
  • Charged with possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Charged with forgery

As it turns out, Shaw had just been paroled from the Utah State Prison at the time that she was hired at the apartment complex in 2018.

It also seems like Shaw was about to get up to her old games, because in addition to the drug paraphernalia found in her residence, a credit card and torn W-2 belonging to two of the apartment residents were also found.

Shaw claimed that the items were either found over the course of her maintenance technician duties or were given to her by the residents, however, the respective owners of the items did not agree with Shaw’s account of things.

Who knows how long this would have continued or how much damage would have been done had Shaw secured a better hiding place.

How can employers avoid this situation?

Before being able to fairly evaluate an applicant’s criminal history, an employer must first be aware of the applicants previous offenses.

To ensure a background check vendor is going to deliver a thorough and comprehensive report, make sure the company:

  • Doesn’t rely primarily on database searches. These often associate criminal records with the wrong individuals or report out-of-date information. This is because there is no reliable national or comprehensive criminal records database.
  • Does rely on hand searches of the local courts’ records. Even the best databases often miss about 50% of the records found by conducting searches of the courts’ live records.
  • Does verify every criminal record as accurate and up to date with the original jurisdiction before reporting it to the employer.  Some companies use technology to automatically search the criminal records available from online county courts and because court records often have mistyped names or other errors, these systems will miss records that a well-trained human would spot and investigate further.

As a maintenance worker at a SLC apartment complex, April Swenson-Shaw had unsupervised access to resident’s homes.

So imagine residents’ surprise when they learned that she had a lengthy criminal history after she was arrested for stealing from residents and other offenses.

Previous Criminal History

Property managers say a third party a criminal background check was conducted on April Ann Swenson-Shaw by a third party, however “the results came back clean before she was hired.”

Imperative ran our Critical Criminal Background Investigation on Shaw and here’s what we uncovered:

View the full report

2012

  • Convicted of unlawfully using a financial transaction card
  • Convicted of two charges of forgery
  • Convicted of unlawful acquisition, possession, or transfer of a financial transaction card
  • Convicted of theft
  • Charged with unlawful acquisition, possession, or transfer of a financial transaction card
  • Charged with theft by receiving stolen property
  • Charged with burglary

 

2016

  • Convicted of retail theft (shoplifting)
  • Convicted of using or possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Convicted of possession or use of a controlled substance
  • Charged with possession of another’s identification documents
  • Charged with possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Charged with failure to stop at the command of a law enforcement officer
  • Charged with possession of drug paraphernalia (again)

 

2017

  • Convicted of retail theft (with prior offenses)
  • Convicted of escaping from official custody
  • Convicted of identity fraud
  • Convicted of possession or use of a controlled substance
  • Charged with giving false personal information to a peace officer
  • Charged with possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Charged with forgery

Additionally, there are also multiple charges and convictions for possessing drug paraphernalia from 2012 to 2017.

As it turns out, Shaw had just been paroled from the Utah State Prison at the time that she was hired at the apartment complex.

It also seems like Shaw was about to get up to her old games, because in addition to the drug paraphernalia found in her residence, a credit card and torn W-2 belonging to two of the apartment residents were also found.

Shaw claimed that the items were either found over the course of her maintenance technician duties or were given to her by the residents, however, the respective owners of the items did not agree with Shaw’s account of things.

Who knows how long this would have continued or how much damage would have been done had Shaw secured a better hiding place.

How can employers avoid this situation?

Before being able to fairly evaluate an applicant’s criminal history, an employer must first be aware of the applicants previous offenses.

To ensure a background check vendor is going to deliver a thorough and comprehensive report, make sure the company:

  • Doesn’t rely primarily on database searches. These often associate criminal records with the wrong individuals or report out-of-date information. This is because there is no reliable national or comprehensive criminal records database.
  • Does rely on hand searches of the local courts’ records. Even the best databases often miss about 50% of the records found by conducting searches of the courts’ live records.
  • Does verify every criminal record as accurate and up to date with the original jurisdiction before reporting it to the employer.  Some companies use technology to automatically search the criminal records available from online county courts and because court records often have mistyped names or other errors, these systems will miss records that a well-trained human would spot and investigate further.

In the end, the apartment property management company issued a written apology to the residents and is offering a year of free credit monitoring and to re-key all of the locks.

We’ll let you decide, is a cheap background check worth the cost of damage control or a negligent hiring lawsuit after-the-fact?

Shaw was convicted on July 28, 2019 of one charge of unlawful acquisition, possession or transfer of a financial transaction card and was sentenced to serve up to five years in prison.  

Don't become the victim of a Bad Hire Day!

Download our eBook 7 Steps to Making Bulletproof Hiring Decisions to learn how to create a thorough background screening process that starts before an applicant even walks through your door. 

Don't become the victim of a Bad Hire Day!

Download our eBook 7 Steps to Making Bulletproof Hiring Decisions to learn how to create a thorough background screening process that starts before an applicant even walks through your door.