A former White Hall resident has pleaded guilty to a single federal charge that he filed false documents with the government to collect more than $130,000 in overtime pay for time he did not work.

A former White Hall resident has pleaded guilty to a single federal charge that he filed false documents with the government to collect more than $130,000 in overtime pay for time he did not work.

U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer stated that Thomas James Braumuller, 54, former civilian fire chief at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, collected $133,974.45 in overtime pay from January 2009 to March 2011.

During Thursday’s plea hearing in Little Rock before U.S. District Court Judge Leon Holmes, Braumuller admitted that he falsified some of his time and attendance records by reporting overtime that he did not work and utilized the money to pay medical bills for his wife and personal expenses. Braumuller told the court he began “padding his time” in 2009 after his wife became ill and required several surgeries.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benecia Moore advised Holmes that Braumuller claimed excessive amounts of overtime during the two-year period, adding the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command, which oversees the arsenal, received information about possible fraud, and launched an investigation.

Braumuller resigned as fire chief in March 2011. An arsenal spokesman refused to comment at that time when asked about Braumuller’s status.

Moore quoted investigators who questioned other arsenal employees and determined Braumuller worked “very little overtime” during the two-year period he filed claims for the extra pay, and that “he rarely, if ever, worked a 24-hour shift,” which he also claimed.

A firefighter with the Department of Defense since 1988, Braumuller began working at the arsenal fire department in May 2004 and was promoted to chief in 2006, according to Thyer’s office. He was paid an annual salary of about $115,000, not including unscheduled overtime.

Braumuller and his wife sold their White Hall home in mid-July, telling neighbors they were moving to Kentucky.

“It is a travesty that someone holding a position of leadership would lie for his own personal gain,” Thyer said in a statement released by his office. “Thankfully, this is an aberration and not the norm for federal employees. … For those who choose to cheat the taxpayers, as in this case, we will hold them accountable for their dishonesty.”

Under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement, Braumuller agreed to pay $58,593.60 in restitution to the government. The maximum penalty for presenting a false claim to the federal government is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Moore told Holmes that federal prosecutors would not object to a defense request for probation in lieu of a prison sentence, subject to a presentence investigation. Braumuller was released on his own recognizance pending the completion of the presentence report by the U.S. Probation Office. Under federal procedures the report is prepared after a person has been convicted of an offense, summarizing for the sentencing judge the background information needed to determine an appropriate sentence.