Auditors: Spencer lawyer overbilled state $177,000

State auditors say a Spencer attorney working under contract as a public defender overbilled the state more than $177,000 claiming he worked more than 24 hours in a single day for 80 days in a 3½ year period.

The auditors say Ney McDaniel also improperly claimed more than $6,000 in mileage.

McDaniel isn’t commenting and is referring calls to his attorney, who didn’t immediately return a call.

The audit report released Thursday shows McDaniel took in $1.1 million from 2005 through March of 2011 when his contract was terminated. He mostly represented clients charged with crimes who couldn’t afford an attorney.

Clay County Attorney Michael Houchins found McDaniel was billing significantly more than other public defenders and sought an audit.

The Iowa Attorney General’s office is considering criminal charges.