A federal court has ordered a former government employee to pay nearly $300,000 to the state for the costs of defending against his lawsuit, in which the employee fabricated some of his evidence.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty determined in June that Yoseph Yadessa Kenno, a former database administrator for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, had falsified emails and manipulated an audio recording to support his discrimination lawsuit against his former employer. Hegarty said the discovery had cast doubt on all of Kenno's representations to the court, and that he would consider the state's request to be reimbursed for slightly more than $300,000.
In an Oct. 12 order, Hegarty decided Kenno needed to pay $295,500.83 to the state for its attorney and expert witness costs. He also took one final dig at Kenno's actions.
"In over fifteen years on the bench, this judicial officer has never seen the level of fabrication and fraud on the court as is present in this case," the magistrate judge wrote.
In considering the state's bills, Hegarty did deem some of the costs excessive, but overall found that the year-and-a-half the government spent investigating the fabricated evidence was justified. Following Hegarty's order, Kenno indicated he was appealing the magistrate judge's decisions in his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
“The amount that Defendants are seeking is insurmountable for any individual, let alone me. When deciding how much to award Defendants, I hope the court considers the fact that I had spent everything I had, over $260,000," Kenno wrote in response to the state's bills. He denied committing fraud, and further alleged that his supervisor with the Office of Information Technology had called him a "dumb [N-word]."
Kenno's lawsuit alleged he experienced retaliation after reporting a racial comment from a health benefits employee. But an email in which Kenno's superior purportedly told him to "refrain from making similar accusations going forward" was fabricated, Hegarty decided, as was an audio recording apparently designed to shift blame to a coworker for a project.