Audit: Former Iowa Veterans Home commandant was ‘too embarrassed’ to admit he was being overpaid

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MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA — The former Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home knowingly collected more than $100,000 in excess pay and benefits over a two-year span didn’t report it out of “embarrassment”, according to a report from State Auditor Rob Sand.

The Auditor’s Office conducted a special investigation of the pay of Timon Oujiri, who served as commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown from May 2017 until he was fired by the Governor’s Office in May of this year. The Governor’s Office then asked Sand’s office to investigate discrepancies in Oujiri’s pay.

According to Sand’s investigation, Oujiri was hired as a salaried employee in 2017 with his bi-weekly pay based on a 112 hour work week – standard for directors of state agencies. In June 2019, the state adjusted its accounting practices. Directors were given significant hourly pay raises, but at the same time had their bi-weekly pay based on an 80 hour work week.

According to Sand’s investigation, though, Oujiri continued to be paid for 112 hours bi-weekly under the new, higher pay scale. That resulted in a 46% increase in pay. According to Sand’s investigation, Oujiri was paid $90,027.20 in undue wages and received another $15.385.84 in other undue payments, including IPERS benefits.

Oujiri told the Governor’s office that he noticed he was being overpaid in the summer of 2020, but didn’t report it because he was “too embarrassed” – according to the Auditor’s report.

At the time of his termination, Oujiri was owed $11,625.60 in unused vacation pay. The State of Iowa withheld that payment as partial compensation for his years of being overpaid. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is working to recover the excess money paid to Oujiri, according to a spokesperson for the governor. No criminal charges have been filed.

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