By Nikita Stewart, Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 5:18 PM
Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said Wednesday his office will begin filing civil lawsuits “in the next few weeks” to get back the city’s money. District officials have estimated that the city distributed fraudulent payments of as much as $800,000 since 2009.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration has fired 61 out of 92 employees who were suspended in February, pending the outcome of an investigation that involves combing through city records to determine whether workers double-dipped over the past three years.
More employees are expected to be fired, and the Department of Employment Services, which administers the jobless benefits program, has found that another 100 workers may have received fraudulent payments as well. At least 30 workers who had left the District employment before the February suspension have also been implicated.
“Like our Mayor, I take these cases very seriously. My office is fully committed to recouping all monies it can from present and former city employees who illegally obtained unemployment compensation while working for the city government,” Nathan said in a statement Wednesday. “As we continue to receive referrals from the Office of the Inspector General— about 30 cases thus far — we are preparing civil collection cases against the individuals involved. We expect to begin filing these cases in the next few weeks.”
The checks ranged from a few hundred dollars to more than $20,000 per employee. Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said the city had turned over the cases to the Office of the Attorney General to recoup the money.
“We’re not going to tolerate this kind of activity in the government,” Ribeiro said.
DOES Director Lisa Mallory said that since the February suspensions, the agency had discovered overpayments to more current employees. “We found another batch of 100,” she said..