State audit finds over $200K in DeGraff utility funds missing; former clerk sentenced to prison

A special audit to the Village of DeGraff in Logan County has resulted in over $200,000 in misappropriated utility receipts which resulted in a finding for recovery and charges against the former clerk.
A special audit to the Village of DeGraff in Logan County has resulted in over $200,000 in misappropriated utility receipts which resulted in a finding for recovery and charges against the former clerk.

A special audit to the Village of DeGraff in Logan County has resulted in identifying over $200,000 in misappropriated utility receipts which resulted in a finding for recovery and a prison sentence for the former clerk, according to a release from the Ohio auditor’s office.

Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office released the audit following an investigation conducted by the office’s Special Investigations Unit, which came after concerns were raised by the Local Government Services Division of the Auditor of State.

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“The investigation identified just over $206,000 in misappropriated utility receipts which resulted in a finding for recovery and support criminal charges against former Utility Clerk Jennifer Dearwester,” the release stated.

As the former clerk, Dearwester, who resigned in March 2018, processed village utilities and was the point of contact for customers paying other types of fees, such as deposits for utilities and park donations.

Auditors examined all utility receipt transactions in the village’s utility system and all handwritten receipts in the village’s duplicate receipt books and compared them to deposits made into the village’s bank account. They identified 1,393 receipts totaling $206,077 and two receipts totaling $105 in which the monies collected were not deposited into the bank account, the release stated.

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Dearwester was indicted in February by the Logan County grand jury on theft in office, aggravated theft and three counts of tampering with records. She entered a negotiated plea of guilty in June to theft in office and tampering with records, both a felony of the third degree.

Dearwester was sentenced to 36 months in prison in July for each count to be served concurrently and ordered restitution of $241,852, which includes both the misappropriated receipts and the special audit costs.

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