Walter L. Edwards III of Niantic, who retired from the state Department of Correction on Jan. 1 after 20 years of service, was shocked to receive a letter saying he had been overpaid by the department and owed $1,255.
“Clearly I’m not paying it,” the former correctional treatment officer said in a phone interview this week. “I don’t even work there anymore.”
The Feb. 7 letter from a DOC payroll officer said “a number of overpayments were discovered” in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and instructed him to send in a check. In a follow up phone call, Edwards said he was told that due to a “computer glitch,” the department gave him too much sick and vacation time in 2004 and 2005.
“Every time I took time off, I checked to make sure I had the time on the books,” Edwards said. “How is it my fault if you’re telling me I had these days and I’m using them?”
Edwards said he was told his account would be sent to a collection agency if he did not repay the department within a month. He spoke to some of his former colleagues and learned at least one of them had received a similar letter. The woman said in an email to The Day that she received a letter one week saying she had been overpaid by $1,000 and another letter, a week later, containing a $56 check and a note that she had overpaid her taxes. The woman declined to be identified for this story, saying she “doesn’t want any more problems” with the DOC.
Brian Garnett, a spokesman for the department, said there is no mass letter campaign going out to employees but overpayments occur from time to time.
“It is not unusual, particularly when you have 6,300 employees, for an overpayment letter to go out to a particular staff member,” Garnett said. “The formulation of payroll is so complicated because of accruals of vacation time, longevity, etc.”