My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Mom knows best

UPDATE: The guy, Frank Kuni, is now in even more trouble. The local ABC affiliate’s website is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security is after him too. From the story (for the whole article click here):

By DAVID HENRY

PENNSAUKEN, N.J. – May 21, 2010 (WPVI) –¬†Action News has learned the Department of Homeland Security issued a search warrant in connection with the case of a convicted sex offender who got a job as a Census worker in New Jersey.

Those warrants are for two locations in connection to Frank Kuni, who is being charged with using a fake Social Security number in the application he filled out in March to get the Census job.

Pennsauken Police and the Social Security Administration’s Office of Investigations are also involved in the search warrant.

They are searching for laptop computers, false ID’s or any documents that would be able to prove he used false identification. They have already confiscated numerous laptops and large sums of money.

This case came to light earlier this week, when Action News reported that Pennsauken resident Amy Schmalbach recognized Kuni from the NJ State Police sex offender registry.

Here’s a story that came out of of Jersey earlier. A registered sex offender allegedly used an alias to get past a name background check for enumerators, got fired when he failed his fingerprint checks, and went on to impersonate a Census employee with a badge and bag (MyTwoCensus has written extensively on¬†how easy it’d be to do this). Luckily, an informed mother recognized him from an internet database. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time someone has allegedly impersonated an enumerator. We hope these cases are far and few in between. From Philly.com:

Mother recognizes Census worker as sex offender

By Darran Simon

Inquirer Staff Writer

Amy Schmalbach doesn’t answer her door when she’s home alone with her toddler son. But she opened it for a U.S. Census Bureau worker on May 4.

“I figured this is a government worker, I’m safe,” said Schmalbach, 33, who had misplaced her survey and got a visit from a worker.

Schmalbach spoke briefly to the man, who said his name was Jamie, on the porch of her Pennsauken home. He looked familiar, wore a badge, and carried a dark bag with the census logo. He asked for names and birthdates, and whether Schmalbach and her husband rented or owned.

Toward the end of the interview, she recognized him: She had seen his face on the state’s sex-offender Internet registry. She remembered his many aliases – including some outrageous ones – such as Phanton Flam, Toot Flynn, and Jamie Shepard.

Schmalbach checked the sex-offender registry site after he left, found the man, and told her neighbors and Pennsauken police. The next day, officers arrested Frank J. Kuni, a registered sex offender in Pennsauken, who had used the alias Jamie Shepard to get a job as a census worker, Pennsauken police said.

Kuni, 47, was being held Monday in the Camden County Jail on charges of false representation and impersonating a public official, authorities said.

“If I had not recognized who this person was, none of my neighbors would have, and I believe he would have continued to go door to door,” Schmalbach said.

Police credited a quick-thinking resident concerned about Kuni with helping the investigation.

A census official said someone named Jamie Shepard working in the Camden area passed a name check but failed a fingerprint check. He had been hired in late April, completed four days of training April 30, and was terminated May 5. Kuni had visited more than one Pennsauken home, police said.

The census official confirmed Shepard failed the background check but could not say why.

A sex-crime arrest or conviction would preclude someone from working as a census worker, said Fernando E. Armstrong, director for the Philadelphia region.

Kuni had served about four years in prison for endangering the welfare of a child in November 1996, burglary, and other crimes. He assaulted one victim and had inappropriate contact with two other victims he knew, according to a state website.

There are 3,168 registered sex offenders listed on the state’s Internet registry. Camden County has 324, Burlington has 130, and Gloucester has 70.

Armstrong said workers are fingerprinted at the start of the four-day training. The checks usually flag arrests or convictions in training or shortly afterward.

The census hired some 600,000 workers in the last week of April for the home visits, which started on May 1, Armstrong said.

“When you are looking at 600,000 people going through this check, you can understand that it doesn’t always work the way it should,” he said.

Here is the how the hiring process works:

Applicants must pass a written test and a check of their Social Security number and date of birth, among other things.

Then, new hires take an oath and get fingerprinted on the first day of training. Fingerprints are sent within a day to an Indiana census center.

If the background check finds something, regional offices get electronic messages that someone should be removed, but not the details.

The order trickles down to a field supervisor.

But Schmalbach wants the census to clear workers before they receive any materials and credentials, which happens on the last day of training.

“I know that they’re not going to catch every bad guy even by doing the fingerprinting,” she said this week. “But I think a great amount of people, who have bad intentions or want to do some harm, would be precluded from doing so if these background checks are done before they give out the materials.”

To see the list of registered sex offenders in New Jersey, go tohttp://www.state.nj.us/njsp/info/reg_sexoffend.html

12 Responses to “Mom knows best”

  1. RyanEnumerator Says:

    I don’t know if it was an isolated situation, but I can say that in the enumerator training I went through we were given the bags, and ID badge at the beginning of the first class. Before we were fingerprinted. All of the supplies for the class including the manuals and work books were inside the bags.

  2. CLA Dave Says:

    Seems to me they should do fingerprinting far enough in advance to clear everyone before training starts. (And *lose* the ink and cards! It’s the 21st century!)

  3. Samantha Jackson Says:

    We need to have Admin Day which includes fingerprinting and paperwork at least a full week before training starts and hand out bags, badges and other supplies on the first day of training, not Admin Day. Then if the appointee needs to be re-fingerprinted, which happens often, there’s enough time to bring them in for the live-scan. Sure there’s an initial background check following the application for employment, but it doesn’t beat fingerprinting.

  4. anonenum Says:

    Samantha is spot on.

  5. anonymous Says:

    I work in the admin at an LCO and during the first week of NRFU training we came across one Federal Declaration form where the man checked yes that he had a felony…failure to register as a sex offender. The shocking fact, however, was that he had worked last year for address canvassing. I’m not sure what happened to him (other than to say that he wasn’t rehired!) but once the word was shared with of the NRFU supervisors, she started walking around the office repeating “I can’t believe he’s a sex offender and he did address canvassing”…I doubt there was anyone working in our office that evening that didn’t learn of this.

  6. Former AMFO Says:

    During the Address Canvassing operation we did have an Admin Day at the same LCO where this current incident happened. The new hires were brought in a week early and sworn in and fingerprinted. It worked well but it made too much sense for the RCC in Philly. They stopped the practice citing extra cost and travel time and the fact that the training Manual doesn’t support it. Mr Armstrong you would not have egg on your face right now if you would just let your local managers think outside the box or just think period.

  7. RyanEnumerator Says:

    “Extra Cost, and the Manual doesn’t support it”? My experience so far in New York is extra cost is rarely a worry, and no one cares about the manual.

    For example the manual clearly states that you meet with your CL daily to hand in the PREVIOUS days time sheet. Yet the New York Offices have started insisting that everyone meet with their LCs at the end of the work day and hand in the time sheet FOR THAT DAY. Our LC likes to call everyone at the same time and have a 45min to 1hour meeting where she goes through the time sheets one by one, while everyone else sits around on the clock. It basically results in an extra hour of work added to each evening, for the entire group. Not to mention if you get done early your stuck waiting around for the meeting. I’ve asked around and of the other Enumerators I know who are in other groups, this is standard practice in our area of New York City.

  8. angrycl Says:

    I’m still shocked they taught us (Crew leaders and a few enumerators) to fingerprint rather than bringing in, y’know, people who are trained to fingerprint. Because I am not good at it. I’m not good at it at all, and a LOT of the people I fingerprinted had to be re-fingerprinted, and I can totally see how that could’ve caused problems.

    This whole news story has caused me a lot of trouble in the last two days: my enumerators are afraid to go out, since this mom has been all over TV saying her “red flag” was when he asked about the ages and names of her children, and whether they owned their home–this is all part of the standard interview. I worked with the local police to resolve resident concerns, though, and the paranoia seems to have died down a little.

  9. end the census Says:

    How is it that the Census Bureau officials themselves are not being held legally liable for the fact that they put registered sex offenders and other felons on the payroll AND in contact with the public on a daily basis, as authorized representatives of the U.S. government? Fingerprinting should be done by trained fingerprinters, and along with a thorough background check to determine whether an applicant is a criminal risk to the public. Instead, the Census bureau willfully and knowingly continues to endanger the public by allowing unvetted applicants to go through training class, where they are given badges and all the other official paraphernalia, and then turns them loose on American parents and children. Prosecute and lock up Frank Kuni, yes, but do the same with everybody at the census bureau who equips and enables monsters like Frank Kuni.

    END THE CENSUS

  10. Former AMFO Says:

    The 2010 Census is the most unorganized and micro managed nightmare that I have ever witnessed in my life.

  11. My Two Census » Blog Archive » Washington Post: Stricter hiring rules at the Census Bureau Says:

    [...] response to recent incidents and pressure from lawmakers, Robert M. Groves has made hiring rules more tough. MyTwoCensus has for [...]

  12. Privacy Please Says:

    [Sorry for the editorial. For some reason this incident reminded me of when my parents home was burglarized. I know it's not really similar, but all the same: It boils down to security and feeling safe.]

    While it made me bristle, I did end up filling out the census (short form) and sending it in. This was the first census I was filling out as an adult living on my own with my family. Honestly, I thought the purpose of the census was to count the number of individuals living in a household. I really couldn’t figure out the point of asking for date of birth & race. (Which my family answered as ‘American’. Its high time we stopped looking at everyone living in the US as anyone but an American. We’re all mutts as it is…)

    Still, the census itself made me uncomfortable in asking for name & date of birth on the form (Two things which can be used to steal identity).

    And then I got the American Community Survey. Talk about REALLY feeling uncomfortable! I filled out the first portion, basically the same info that the short form requires. Then I got to the long part of it. And my pen stopped. I did not feel safe or comfortable providing information regarding my finances, my home, education, among other personal questions, but the one that really stuck was the one asking for the work information. I’ll explain why this sent a shiver down my back:

    The form asks for when one leaves for work in the morning, the address for the place of work, how long it takes to get to work, and how many hours a week you work. When I was younger, my parent’s house was broken into while everyone was at work or school and a LOT of items were stolen and the home was TRASHED. Suddenly, those memories came swarming back to me like a mob of angry bees. Now, being a stay-at-home mom, with an infant, I could not answer those questions, especially as I’m home alone for a good portion of the day. I was way to scared! All the info anyone needs to get into our house when we’re not here, or, God forbid, when I’m at home with my child, are those answers.

    I decided I was not going to complete the ACS. I just can’t. It frightens me too much.

    Yes, we’ve received the calls, and the visits (To which I do not answer. As I said before, I’m home alone with an infant during the day. I keep the front door shut and locked!), and now the threatening letters of “you must answer or be fined”.

    I just can not bring myself to answer the survey completely, purely for my own self-perseverance and security.

    I may call and politely explain I have complied with the census, and I will only send in the first section of the survey, as it is the same information I provided in the census. But I will not answer the rest to preserve what little sense of security I can still provide for myself and my family in this day and age. (I may even politely suggest that if this is such an important aspect of the census, to provide it to ALL households and make it a voluntary act to complete. They may get a more positive response.)

    I’ve been told the likelihood of being fined is extremely slim to none, but even if we were, whether it were $100 or $5000, I am not above taking out a loan to pay it. I feel my privacy is worth that, and more.

    I certainly should feel I have the right to preserve my security and the well-being of my family.