Attorneys Over-billed State For Representation
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Four of 14 attorneys who were paid by Iowa to represent low-income defendants have been convicted of overbilling the state following state audits that found excessive billings of nearly $500,000.
The Des Moines Register reports that the 10 other attorneys have repaid the government, but weren’t criminally charged.
Kurt Swaim is a former state representative and first assistant public defender for the state. He says most of the cases that weren’t prosecuted involved unintentional bookkeeping errors.
Auditors say the attorneys made excessive billings or mileage
reimbursement claims during a nearly five-year period that ended in August 2013.
Swaim says attorneys so far have been ordered to or voluntarily agreed to repay more than $250,000. He says Iowa is seeking restitution of more than $100,000 in one case and repayment in multiple cases not involving criminal charges.
Iowa Supreme Court Re-instates County Attorney
KEOSAUQUA, Iowa (AP) – An Iowa prosecutor whose behavior was described as “egregious” by the Iowa Supreme Court will resume his duties after the court ordered him reinstated.
Abraham Watkins announced Tuesday he intends to resume serving as Van Buren County attorney.
The all-male Supreme Court last month found Watkins shouldn’t have been removed as county attorney in January 2017 despite allegations of sexual harassment. In a 4-3 ruling, the court found that Watkins’ conduct wasn’t enough to remove an elected official. Allegations included that he commented on an employee’s breasts, repeatedly appeared in underwear in his home office and displayed nude photos of his wife.
Watkins says he hasn’t decided whether to seek re-election this fall.
Former Van Buren County Attorney Craig Miller is the only person running so far.
Residents Seeing Relief After Flooding
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Downstream residents can breathe a little easier, now that the water level is dropping in the reservoir that protects Des Moines from Des Moines River flooding.
Dayne Magneson is assistant operations project manager for Saylorville Lake, and he said Tuesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake crested overnight less than 4 feet (more than a meter) below full, reaching around 89.5 percent of capacity. He says the level was the sixth highest in the lake’s 41-year history.
He says the figures are allowing officials to let loose “a minor sigh of relief.” Magneson also says the water will drop slowly on its way to the normal level of 11.5 percent of capacity.
Man Dies After Riding Horse Into Farm Pond
OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say a man died after riding a horse into a southeast Iowa farm pond.
The Ottumwa Courier reports that medics and Wapello County sheriff’s deputies were called Sunday evening to the farm, which sits a few miles west of Ottumwa. The Wapello County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that witnesses reported that 40-year-old Jose Perez-Ochoa, of Blakesburg, had ridden into the pond but didn’t come back out.
Searchers recovered his body later.
It’s not clear what happened to the horse. County Sheriff Mark Miller didn’t immediately return a call Tuesday from The Associated Press.