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Ex-chancellor’s wife paid for 14 months after her retirement

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Linda Johnson, the wife of former state two-year college Chancellor Roy Johnson, collected her salary for 14 months after retiring last year as an executive assistant at Southern Union State Community College in Opelika.

Johnson, who earned $125,314 a year, also received more than $48,000 in deferred retirement payments for the period she was on paid leave, according to a report Saturday.

That money was paid to her as part of a one-time retirement check of nearly $260,000 when she ended her paid leave Oct. 1, according to the report.

Johnson left her office at Southern Union the week after her husband was fired in July 2006, school officials said.

$2,300 a week

She continued receiving more than $2,300 a week while on paid leave, claiming 232 days of sick pay, 69 days of vacation and four days of personal leave until she retired, records show.

The retirement payments made for the period when she also was receiving paid leave came as part of the state’s deferred retirement program known as DROP.

The program encourages veteran employees to delay retirement once eligible and pays up to five years of retirement into an interest-bearing account for them while they continue to receive their salary.

They receive that money upon retirement.

Roy Johnson received about $252,000 in a one-time DROP payment after he was fired.

Chancellor Bradley Byrne said Linda Johnson continued being paid since 2006 without reporting to work at Southern Union because system policies allow employees to accumulate large amounts of paid leave.

Johnson was required only to submit a letter from her doctor authorizing the sick leave, which continued for more than a full, 180-day academic year, Byrne said.

He said he was surprised to learn how much sick pay Johnson was allowed to accumulate under the system’s policies and state law.

“It may be that we need to take another look at system policy,” Byrne said. “It does seem to be pretty excessive.”

College payments to Johnson’s relatives were cited as one of the reasons state school board members fired him last year. At the time, the Johnson family had received more than $600,000 a year from jobs and contracts in the system.

Linda Johnson’s monthly retirement pay was not affected by her 14 months of paid leave because she had frozen her retirement salary in 2003, when she signed up for the DROP program, said Marc Reynolds, the assistant director of the Retirement Systems of Alabama.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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