White-Collar Crime

Contract attorney faces felony overbilling case, allegedly claimed over 24 hours on 80 work days

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An Iowa lawyer is facing felony charges after allegedly obtaining nearly $178,000 in improper payments, between 2007 and 2011, for his work as a contract attorney for the state public defenders office.

Ney McDaniel, 60, is charged with theft and fraudulent practice concerning his work in Clay County, reports Radio Iowa. An earlier Radio Iowa article provides additional details.

An audit found that McDaniel claimed to have put in more than 24 hours of work on 80 different days, the station says. Because the state contract payment system is focused on specific matters, rather than individual lawyers, special efforts are needed to figure out how many hours of work an individual has claimed per day, explained State Auditor Mary Mosiman.

After the McDaniel investigation, a statewide review was conducted of work by outside lawyers for the public defender and the contracts of four other attorneys were terminated.

McDaniel and his lawyer didn’t respond to requests for comment by the station.

President Guy Cook of the Iowa State Bar Association called the audit findings “an isolated aberration, involving five lawyers. Simply put, a few bad apples do not spoil the barrel,” he said in a written statement. “Any abuses of the program, however, need to be promptly corrected.”

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Probe Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Court-Appointed Lawyer Who Billed $1M in Half a Decade”

ABAJournal.com: “Attorney who billed for 29-hour day did the work, his lawyer says”

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