Former Clark County Department of Job and Family Services Director Bob Suver and former Fiscal Administrator Jean Chepp are off the hook for most of a $24,000 audit finding after a settlement agreement with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.
The settlement, signed by the state in December, says the state will keep $3,685 already withheld from Suver’s tax returns but will not pursue the rest of the money.
“I’m glad that we got a resolution to it,” Suver said.
The state’s decision to settle the matter came after both a special prosecutor in the auditor’s office and the county’s own bonding company found insufficient evidence of liability in the matter, Suver said.
State auditors issued the finding for recovery in 2014 against the pair, accusing them of using two off-the-book accounts to move a check from the non-profit Rocking Horse Center to DJFS’s Children Services levy campaign in 2010.
The check, according to auditors and Clark County Administrator Nathan Kennedy, was a reimbursement to the county from several years of hosting a co-sponsored community education event. It was therefore public money, he said, and shouldn’t have been used to fund the levy campaign.
But Suver and Chepp have maintained that the check from Rocking Horse had nothing to do with those contracted events and was simply a donation from a private organization to a levy campaign fund. It inadvertently got routed through a long-standing Clark County Children’s Home savings and checking account before a check was written to the campaign.
This settlement concludes “the controversy” over the check, according to attorney Dan Harkins, who represented Suver and Chepp.
“It’s very clear that neither Bob nor Jean enriched themselves or benefited (from the money),” Harkins said.
His clients attorney fees were going to be more than the amount in question if the matter dragged on, so the choice to settle was an economic one, he said.
Even though he feels he shouldn’t have paid anything since there was no wrongdoing, Suver said fighting to get his tax returns back was going to cost more than they were worth.
The settlement agreement states that Chepp and Suver do not admit any liability by signing.
Although an Attorney General’s section chief signed the agreement on behalf of Clark County, County Administrator Nathan Kennedy said he had not been informed of the settlement. The county was remitted a portion of the money already collected, he said.
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