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OPAD Deputy Director’s payroll check under scrutiny

joy@samoanews.com

The director for the Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled, Matautu Dr. Peter Tinitali, is currently investigating a case in which 200 hours were paid to his Deputy Director, Brian Urosa Thompson. Director Matautu believes these may have been hours Thompson incurred when working at the governor’s office prior to transferring him to work for OPAD in April, 2013.
 
The Deputy Director, however, said the hours were incurred from the time he was working for OPAD.
 
According to Matautu,“the Deputy Director received that 200-hour check in November, and if, at the completion of the investigation,Thompson is not entitled to said paycheck, he (Thompson) will reimburse the check in the full amount.”
 
Samoa News was leaked a copy of the timesheet, which has the Director’s signature, however when Matautu was asked if that was his signature, he responded, That is my signature, but I don't recall signing that timesheet.”
 
The Director did not specify the amount of the check, but Samoa News understands that it was close to $4,000.
 
Thompson was appointed by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga to work for OPAD as the Deputy Director last year in April. However on January 20, 2014, Thompson’s employment status as a political appointee switched from contract to career service.
 
According to documents obtained by Samoa News, the Deputy Director started working for OPAD in April, 2013 and by January 2014 his employment status was changed from contract to career service.
 
The career service status for Thompson came with a salary boost from $40,000 to $45,812. According to the OPAD Director, he had written to Human Resources indicating the salary for the OPAD Deputy Director should not be $40K, but rather $45K — and in return, HR granted the request to have the employment status for Thompson switched from contract to career service, along with the $5,812 salary boost.
 
“I had requested that Brian’s employment status be converted because, if a new Administration comes in, they will replace every political appointee including Brian, and that would jeopardize all the programs that OPAD has in place. But if Brian is career service he cannot be replaced and he can carry on with the ongoing programs.”
 
According to Human Resources, the Deputy Directors who were political appointees have been switched over from Contract Worker to Career Service status as per instructions by the governor after their evaluation.
 
The Deputy Director was asked for a comment on the matter, and he said he’s taking this up to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) & the Department of Labor.
 
“The fact that these people are knowingly and deliberately attempting to destroy my professional reputation and my ability to work, has clearly shown they have a vendetta… and are willing at any cost to ruin not only my name, but my career as well.
 
“A year ago they sought out this avenue to gain sympathy from the general public, now once again this is their latest attempt,” he said.
 
Thompson was adamant that he was entitled to the 200 hours he received from OPAD in November. “I’m entitled to more than what I was paid, yet I only asked for 200 hours.”



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