Auditor: Butler County Sheriff's misuse of nearly 50k the result of misunderstanding

BUTLER COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) -- A newly released report from the Iowa State Auditor's office has found Butler County Sheriff Jason Johnson misused nearly $50,000 by mistake.

Johnson, the report alleges, improperly paid 26 different employees due to what Auditor Rob Sand calls a misunderstanding of several policies.

Records show the mistakes happened between December 2014 and October 2018.

The report notes Sheriff Johnson improperly changed employee time cards, in some cases moving hours worked from regular pay to overtime pay. The employees who had their time cards changed did not approve of the changes.

The auditor also found instances where some staff were underpaid. Some examples of people being underpaid include overtime not being given to a part-time employee and holiday pay time not being paid out at an accurate rate to several individuals.

Just shy of $47,000 of the misused money was in the form of wages, the rest for IPERS and FICA.

Auditor Sand says despite the improprieties uncovered he does not expect Sheriff Johnson to face charges because he did not intentionally misuse the money or attempt to steal it.

"Whether it's the Sheriff's office or the board of supervisors, they'll have to decide how to address the situation but the fact of the matter is here there wasn't anyone stealing money and its not the sort of misdoing or misappropriation where you want to take someone's freedom away," said Sand.

The I9 investigative team invited Sheriff Johnson to an interview to explain his side of the story but he did not respond to that request. Johnson did, however, send along a written statement that says in part, "We believed the payments were being made correctly. Once we were informed of the needed changes, they were made."

I9 also reached out to the board of supervisors about the auditor's report. Supervisor Greg Barnett responded in writing saying the board has yet to meet to discuss the findings but "will review and discuss our options in the near future." Barnett added, "We have the utmost respect and trust in our Sheriff."