Iowa troopers seal off agency office after audit alleges misuse of federal money |

Iowa troopers seal off agency office after audit alleges misuse of federal money

DES MOINES, Iowa – Troopers sealed off the headquarters of Iowa’s troubled state jobs agency Thursday and searched two garbage bins after an employee was spotted dumping papers from the office.The agency’s director and deputy director had been ousted the previous day, following a scathing audit that questioned the agency’s oversight of federal funds.An anonymous caller tipped state officials to the woman’s activities, and they called Capitol police. By the time the interim agency chief David Neil confronted her at a garbage bin near the building about 7 a.m., she was surrounded by authorities.”I asked her what she was doing, and she said she couldn’t sleep and she came in to throw away old records,” he said.Gene Meyer, director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said state troopers and special agents had secured the offices to safeguard the agency’s records and had seized some records and computers.It wasn’t immediately clear what was contained in the either the records the employee had at the trash bin Thursday morning or the records and computers that were seized.Late last week, state auditor David Vaudt announced that his investigators had determined the agency, which oversees the state’s job placement and training programs, had failed to prevent the misuse of federal money.In particular, the audit noted excessive compensation paid to three top officials at a publicly funded job consortium under the agency’s supervision.The Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium had paid $1.8 million to its top officials during a 30-month period starting in 2003, according to the audit. The chief executive of the consortium, Ramona Cunningham, was paid $795,384, making her one of the highest paid public officials in the state.Vaudt said he forwarded his report to the attorney general, county attorney and inspector general of the U.S. Department of Labor.Former Iowa Workforce Development Director Richard Running, who resigned at Gov. Tom Vilsack’s request, said he first learned of the salaries in a draft of the audit and was “shocked and dumbfounded.” The ousted deputy director, Jane Barto, also said she was unaware of the excessive salaries.However, the governor said Wednesday that Barto and Running both knew last year of irregularities. Barto deflected inquiries from the U.S. Labor Department last fall, promising officials an internal investigation into the salaries.Meyer said Thursday that two state investigations are under way: a criminal investigation conducted by his agency and an internal investigation by Iowa Workforce Development.—Associated Press writer Henry C. Jackson contributed to this report.—On the Net:Iowa Workforce Development:, Colorado

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