Elliot Shelkrot, who served as both the director of the Free Library and president of the nonprofit Free Library Foundation, might have to return the $236,535 he received in bonuses from 2001 to 2008.

In an audit of the library released yesterday, City Controller Alan Butkovitz found that Shelkrot had received bonuses from the library's trust fund while working for both the city and the nonprofit foundation that raises private funds to support the library's activities.

"City and state laws clearly prohibit city employees from accepting bonus payments from any fund or charity for conducting business in which they already receive a salary from the city," he said.

Butkovitz called on City Solicitor Shelly Smith to find a way to get as much money as possible from Shelkrot, who retired more than two years ago.

Shelkrot pointed to the fact that the arrangement had been edited out of the final draft of a library audit by then-City Controller Jonathan Saidel in 2001 as proof that the bonuses were "proper."

"We did what we believed was proper and correct," he said.

Before the arrangement was ruled improper in mid-1999 by the then-city solicitor, Shelkrot was receiving a "supplemental retirement benefit" from the nonprofit foundation.

Then, after the Free Library Board of Trustees was unable to get Shelkrot a raise in 2000, he began receiving "periodic bonuses," according to a legal opinion from Smith to Chief Integrity Officer Joan Markman.

Smith wrote that the library's board of trustees was "determined to get around that prohibition and continue to pay Mr. Shelkrot the extra compensation that the Board believed he desrved."