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State Auditor: Fired Iowa Veterans Home Leader Collected $105,000 In Excess Pay, Benefits

Former Iowa Veterans Home Commandant Timon Oujiri allegedly collected more than $105,000 in excess pay and benefits.
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Former Iowa Veterans Home Commandant Timon Oujiri allegedly collected more than $105,000 in excess pay and benefits.

The recently-fired head of Iowa’s nursing home for veterans allegedly collected more than $105,000 in extra pay and benefits in less than two years.

A report released Thursday by Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand alleges former Iowa Veterans Home Commandant Timon Oujiri collected more than $90,000 in excess wages and more than $15,000 dollars in excess benefits since the summer of 2019.

The Iowa Veterans Home is a nursing facility in Marshalltown that serves about 500 veterans.

Oujiri was fired in early May, but Gov. Kim Reynolds has not previously said why. According to Sand’s report, Reynolds fired Oujiri after state officials discovered the extra payments.

Reynolds’ spokesperson Pat Garrett said in a statement Thursday Oujiri was fired May 5 “due to job performance issues.”

“Because the underlying issues were financial in nature, the matter was referred to the auditor’s office and results in the report filed today,” Garrett said. “We are working with the attorney general’s office to recover any overpayments received by Oujiri while employed for the State of Iowa.”

To make up for part of the overpayments, the state withheld a more than $11,000 unused vacation time payout Oujiri was supposed to receive after he was fired.

According to Sand’s report, Reynolds’ office met with Oujiri May 4 to discuss the excess payments after Department of Administrative Services staff noticed the discrepancies in April.

The report says Oujiri told the governor’s office in May that he knew he was receiving extra pay but didn’t do anything about it.

Sand’s report says the findings are being shared with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Marshall and Polk County attorney’s offices, the attorney general’s office and federal officials.

Reynolds on Monday appointed Major Matthew Peterson to be the new commandant. His appointment is subject to approval by the Iowa Senate.

“Thanks to two decades of leadership in the Marines and an impressive post-retirement career, Major Peterson has a unique set of qualifications to the Iowa Veterans Home,” Reynolds said in a statement Monday. “He also brings deep appreciation for the military service of the veterans whose care he will oversee. His proven ability and dedication will pay dividends for the home, its staff, and its residents.”

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter