The Press Newspaper
The state auditor’s office has issued a finding for recovery against former Jerusalem Township Trustee Rodney Graffis for receiving health insurance reimbursements of $7,566.03 in 2008 for which he was not eligible.
The finding is part of a 2008 audit of the township’s finances that trustees requested last year.
It is the second time the auditor has issued a finding of recovery against Graffis. In 2007, an audit showed the township paid Graffis $20,174.04 in health insurance reimbursements he was ineligible to receive.
The Ohio Revised Code permits townships to reimburse their officers and employees for health insurance premiums when they incur out-of-pocket expenses for coverage. Though Graffis asked for, and received health insurance reimbursements from the township in 2007 and 2008, he was already getting such coverage from his union.
“A finding of recovery for public monies illegally expended is issued against Rodney Graffis and the Ohio Association Risk Management Authority, his bonding company, in the amount of $7,566.03 and in favor of the Jerusalem Township General Fund,” states the audit.
Former Fiscal Officer Donald Murray, and his bonding company, Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, are liable for the amount of $2,522.01, for the period Jan. 1, 2008 through March 31, 2008, and current Fiscal Officer Julie Van Nest, and her bonding company, Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, are jointly liable for $5,044.02 for the fiscal period of April 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2008, because they approved and signed the warrants resulting in the improper payments, according to the audit.
Murray and Van Nest are liable if payment is not received from Graffis, states the audit.
Graffis has not paid back the $20,174.04 to the township because House Bill 458 releases him and other township officials in Ohio with similar findings for recovery, which was confirmed by Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates last fall.
The bill, said Graffis, also releases him from having to pay the recent findings of recovery.
“It’s a non-issue,” said Graffis, who was defeated for re-election last November.
Graffis has always contended that he has supporting documentation that substantiates his claim that he was eligible for reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance and that he was given prior approval from former State Auditor Betty Montgomery and the Lucas County prosecutor. He insists the auditor’s findings are wrong.
The auditor states that Graffis’s supporting documentation shows otherwise.
“A review of Mr. Graffis’ supporting documentation shows his health insurance premiums were part of his union benefit package and were paid by his employer. The township mistakenly believed that they could reimburse Mr. Graffis for this amount. This led to an overpayment to Mr. Graffis of $7,566.03,” states the audit.
Attorney General Richard Cordray sent a letter to Bates last September that states the findings for recovery against Graffis had been resolved and that he informed the auditor’s office to remove Graffis’s name from its online database, according to Graffis.
Trustee Joe Kiss said the township is preparing to hire an attorney to pursue the findings of recovery against Graffis.
Graffis called the move a waste of taxpayer dollars.
“So we’re going to use taxpayer dollars to hire an attorney to sue me? That’s fine. Go for it,” he said.