Audit says Pike worker was improperly paid while on sick leave

PIKEVILLE — A state audit has found that a Pike County Fiscal Court employee was improperly paid when he was ill and on administrative leave for more than two years.

The employee received leave time donated by coworkers from Dec. 16, 2006, through April 19, 2008, state auditors said in a press release Thursday. After the office policy was changed to disallow donated leave time, the employee did not return to work but did turn in timecards through May 16, 2009, reflecting that he did. The timecards were signed by 10 different office employees.

The employee was the county's safety director, Bill Osborne. He has since died of cancer, Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said in a press release about the audit. After the office policy was changed, the employee worked from home and "performed his job to the maximum level his health would allow," Rutherford said.

He said the county magistrates and county attorney were aware of the arrangement.

A county employee reported to auditors that she was asked to sign the employee's timecards in his absence, even though the timecards reflected that he was working on the day the timecards were due, auditors said.

In a response contained in the auditor's report, Rutherford cited county policy requiring that administrative workers "shall be considered to be on duty seven days a week, and shall work the hours necessary to perform their job in an efficient manner and provide the citizens of the County with the service that their job is supposed to provide."

The auditors recommend that no public employee be paid for time not actually worked unless accumulated leave time is charged. "Properly documented evidence of time worked is important for accountability to the taxpayers, as well as to confirm that employees are eligible for retirement benefits requiring 100 hours to be worked per month" in accordance with state law, the auditors said.

The audit will be referred to the state attorney general's office for investigation.