Red Oak woman fired for mishandling more than $2,700 in client funds


July 13th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

An investigation by the Des Moines Sunday Register reveals a Red Oak woman who served as a supervisor for a charity providing services to disabled adults, was fired from her job after mishandling more than $2,700 in funds belonging to at least nine clients. State records show that until late last year 33-year old Jennifer Koppa, of Red Oak, was employed by Nishna Productions, a Shenandoah charity that provides a wide variety of service to disabled Iowans.

As a team leader, Koppa oversaw operations at four separate homes for people with disabilities, supervised the staff, and had access to the checking accounts of nine clients. Last November, Nishna officials learned that the Internet service had been shut off in one of the homes where clients were living, and some utility bills appeared to have been unpaid.

Agency officials examined their expenses and concluded that Koppa, who was supposed to write checks from clients’ accounts directly to their landlords and to various utilities, had instead written checks from those accounts to the clients themselves — a process that converted those checks into cash, which Koppa could access. In another instance, Koppa wrote checks totaling $1,400 to pay for the utilities of some clients, but the utility bill was $945.

When confronted by her superiors at Nishna Productions, Koppa immediately stopped reporting for work and then stopped responding to phone calls and emails. Ultimately, the agency could not account for $2,730 of client funds, so it reimbursed all of the clients, fired Koppa and reported the matter to state and county authorities.

When Koppa did not appear at the unemployment hearing, an Administrative Law Judge ruled against her with regard to her claim of benefits and ordered that she repay $1,930 in benefits she had already collected. The Register’s investigation revealed eight other Iowans were recently fired from their positions at various locations around the state, and were denied unemployment benefits or have their cases pending in court.