Background Check Loophole Exposed: State Only Checks In-State Convictions

Think the CORI check done on your parent’s home health care aide should give you confidence? Think again.

Questions have been raised about the way Massachusetts does background checks on its employees. The state only checks to see if someone has a criminal record in Massachusetts, so out- of-state convictions are not uncovered.

The most recent example came to light last month when Fox (News) Undercover found a wanted fugitive working for the state contractor Maximus. Maureen Simonetti pleaded no contest to grand theft charges in Florida in 2002, and then took off without paying back the $21,000 she stole from a former employer.

Despite her record, Maximus hired her, allowing her to work as a manager with access to the personal information of hundreds of thousands of people on MassHealth, including their social security numbers.

Maximus fired Simonetti last month after Fox Undercover confronted her about being a wanted woman. The company says Simonetti did not indicate she lived or worked in Florida on her application, so it did not check Florida criminal records when it did her background check, even though the company admits her Florida work history was listed on her resume.

A CORI check is another type of background check often used by the state, and it also only picks up in state convictions. States can conduct national background checks through the F.B.I, but they have to pass a law in order to do it. Right now, Massachusetts only does national background checks on people applying for licenses to deal or carry firearms.

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