The Pentagon has defused a crisis over bomb squad members who were initially told to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess pay.
According to The Washington Post, the Defense Department now says the members will not have to pay back that money.
A Pentagon spokesman told the Post the payments were due to an administrative error made “in good faith.”
“The pay was incorrectly authorized through no fault of the employees involved,” the spokesman said. “They could not have known it was paid in error, and we take this matter very seriously.”
The decision is a relief for squad members, but did not come soon enough for at least one of them -- who, after being initially told he owed more than $136,000, committed suicide in April. The Post reported that members of the bomb squad had faced financial ruin over the debt.
Due to the error, the members since 2008 had gotten a 25 percent bump from "hazardous duty pay." It added up over the years to as much as $173,000 in overpayment.
The initial decision to revoke the pay was made in January 2015 by an office in the Pentagon known as the Washington Headquarters Service (WHS). While officials in the office promised to help bomb squad members in having the debts waived, they were still referred to collection with no guarantee the appeals process would help them, the Post reported.