County attorney overbilled by $85,000 for collecting child support, Kentucky says

The Breathitt County attorney overbilled the state by more than $85,000 for collecting child support payments, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The cabinet said in a news release that Breathitt County Attorney Gary Salyers double-billed for some court services; applied an excessive rate for the work of an assistant county attorney; and used an incorrect reimbursement rate for costs.

The total overbilled was $85,991 between January 2016 and June 30, 2017, according to the cabinet.

The state contracts with county attorneys to help collect child support payments.

The cabinet’s inspector general looked into alleged billing irregularities by Salyers’ office.

“Their extensive examination of Mr. Salyers’ office confirmed systemic mismanagement of child support enforcement dollars, over-billing, and billing for services by Mr. Salyers which he doesn’t appear to have actually performed,” Bryan Hubbard, commissioner for the Department of Income Support, said in a news release.

Salyers told the Herald-Leader that most of the over-billing happened because he paid an assistant the same rate Salyers is allowed for child-support work, but the rate for the assistant was supposed to be lower.

Salyers said he was not aware he couldn’t pay the assistant the same as himself.

Salyers said he has signed a contract to repay the amount covered in the inquiry and will pay the first third of it this week.

“It was an honest mistake,” he said.

However, Salyers also said he plans a separate audit because he believes some of the cabinet’s figures on the alleged over-billing are incorrect.

The investigation also found that Salyers did not make required retirement contributions for an employee and that some payroll expenses and personnel costs lacked proper documentation, the cabinet said.

The cabinet sent information on the findings to state Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office. Beshear’s office said it did not plan to pursue prosecution, according to the news release.

Salyers prevailed Tuesday in a three-way race for the district judge slot in the 39th District of Breathitt, Wolfe and Powell counties.

Salyers finished with just over 36 percent of the vote, three percentage points ahead Billy L. Oliver. Jarrett Rose finished third.

Salyers and Oliver will face each other in November in a runoff for the job.