By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. Thomas J. Fisher will take an education official to court for allegedly facilitating illegal overtime compensation that involved federal funds.
Fisher said he will sue Ignacio “Ike” Santos, federal programs administrator for the Guam Department of Education, for authorizing payments of $640,000 to employees who were not eligible for overtime compensation. Santos personally certified his own overtime payments totaling almost $80,000, Fisher added.
“By certifying these payments, Ike Santos stole money from the Department of Education and essentially from our public school students. I am suing Mr. Santos because he must pay this back,” Fisher said.
“No matter what title he holds, and especially because of the title he holds, and the responsibility he has to administer education to our children, Ike Santos is not above the law and is liable. We must make him accountable. This lawsuit is the first step in that direction,” the senator added.
In April, Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz asked Attorney General Douglas Moylan to take action on potential fraud and abuse of public funds involving the Guam Department of Education’s overtime payments made to ineligible employees.
The OPA’s investigation found that in fiscal 2021 the department incurred over half a million dollars in overtime payments to employees of the Federal Programs Division.
“As a result, OPA questioned $640,055 in OT payments, all of which were supposed to be reimbursed by federal funding for the Covid-19 response,” the OPA’s investigation report released today.
“Because of the nature of the improprieties, reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Education was never requested,” the OPA said.
The OPA raised “serious concerns” about the approval processes and OT payments at the department.