Government

Iowa State Auditor: Public works employee overpaid by at least $427,000

Man held two jobs, hung out at casinos during work hours, report says

The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Most of the time, state officials say, Joel McCubbin tried his luck at Jumer’s Casino and Hotel in Rock Island.

Other days, he’d hit the Wild Rose, Rhythm City or the Isle of Capri. And every now and again, he’d go to the Diamond Jo.

Over the course of eight years, McCubbin, a public works director who got full-time salaries from two local government bodies, was overpaid by $427,000 for work a state audit says he probably never performed.

The figure includes his double-salary arrangement, duplicate expense reports, sick pay he was not supposed to receive and some afternoon work hours spent at area casinos.

The State Auditor’s Office report, released Tuesday, also pointed to poor government oversight and gaps in review processes as having led to improper or unsupported disbursements.

McCubbin could not be reached for comment.

The auditor’s office said copies of the report were distributed to state and local law enforcement agencies. No criminal charges had been filed against him as of Tuesday afternoon.

The report closes the book on a yearlong inquiry that began with complaints about McCubbin, who was reportedly spotted gambling by area residents on workday afternoons.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

By comparing his casino player card statements against his time cards, investigators identified 219 different days he was on the clock while at a casino between 2009 and 2017.

But in the grand scheme of things, the improper pay investigators say McCubbin got while he was at the casino was marginal: roughly $11,600.

The larger figure identified by the auditor’s office came from calculating the time for which McCubbin was paid to work for Park View’s water sanitation district, a job they say he was only doing half the time.

For more than two decades, McCubbin simultaneously held two full-time jobs in two Scott County communities: one with the 850-person city of Long Grove and the other with the water sanitation district in neighboring Park View, population 2,400.

Under his employment contracts, McCubbin was to work 40 hours per week at each job.

By re-evaluating the time he likely spent at work, the state auditor says McCubbin got more than $240,000 in extra wages and taxes paid by the water sanitation district.

After Long Grove placed him on administrative leave last year, the report also said he was kept on the city payroll without good reason, adding another $117,000 to the office’s overpayment estimate.

As the public works director, McCubbin oversaw several maintenance-related projects, including snow removal, fixing streets, flushing fire hydrants and performing building inspections. He told investigators the hours for each job varied, and he often worked through the weekends to keep up with what was expected of him, according to the auditor’s report.

McCubbin was fired from Park View last year and resigned from Long Grove early in August.

Ahead of the investigation, questions also were raised about whether McCubbin properly administered building permits or misused a gas card paid for by the city.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

The state auditor found McCubbin had submitted duplicate claims to the city and water district for postage expenses and got mileage reimbursements to drive a vehicle for which he already received a stipend, according to the report.

The investigators said they were unable to determine whether McCubbin gave preferential treatment to certain vendors.

To reach its conclusions, the state auditor’s office looked at bank statements, time cards and McCubbin’s casino player’s card statements dating back as early as 2009.

The report notes that some information was unavailable, suggesting the total overpayment could have been higher.

Additionally, the state found that Long Grove officials improperly approved a $1,000-per-month stipend for four employees — including McCubbin — and failed to follow the city’s own sick leave policy, resulting in another $128,000 of improper city disbursements.

Along with its findings, the auditor’s office suggested the Long Grove City Council and the Park View water sanitation district board put in place new measures to prevent future financial abuses. Those include creating a travel reimbursement policy, routinely reviewing financial transactions and developing a competitive-bid purchasing policy.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.