Federal Investigation Over Clay County Sheriff's Overtime

A federal investigation is forcing the Clay County Sheriff's Office to pay nearly $70,000 to four employees for overtime that was not compensated.

Sheriff Kenny Lemons says the entire situation was an issue that snowballed out of control. He says the $67,000 of overtime will be paid, but the Sheriff is certain he will never get into this predicament again.

Sheriff Lemons comments, "The last two years lots of things happening and with short man power added up to overtime.  The overtime built up and built up, and now we have reached a level that was a little bit out of hand."

So out of hand that the U.S. Department of Labor stepped in to get things back in line with the Clay County Sheriff's Office. Now the complicated issue of overtime compensation is now being resolved.

Sheriff Lemons says his office was short on manpower, meaning other deputies had to pick up patrols to make sure the streets were watched 24/7.

Sheriff Lemons tells Newschannel 6, "When your reduced the number of manpower that you have until you get back up to full speed, then other people have to work to fill those shifts and to answer those calls. It is not where we can turn a switch off at 5 o'clock. We keep working and that in itself builds comp time."

The U.S. Department of Labor sets certain guidelines for the maximum amount of extra hours that can be honored with comp time. Anything above that set number of hours would be considered overtime hours that needed to be paid for in cash.

The federal investigation found three deputies and one support personnel position exceeded the set hours and now must be compensated a combined $67,000.

Sheriff Lemons comments, "We have to addressed the issue and myself , the Sheriff's Office, and Commissioners Court are addressing the issue. We will take care of this and pretty certainly will not be in this position again."

Sheriff Lemons does admit the entire situation got out of hand, but says he is certain this will never happen again.

Clay County Commissioners decided Monday that the $67,000 will be taken directly out of the Sheriff's Office budget.

Sheriff Lemons says his office will suffer a huge hit with the chunk of money being taken away.

Officials say commissioners will make a budget amendment next month to front the money until the new budget year gets underway.

Natalie Garcia,  Newschannel 6