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Former Leetonia Police Chief Sentenced for Theft
Columbus – Former Leetonia Police Chief John Soldano was sentenced Wednesday to nine months in prison and ordered to pay restitution for a third-degree felony charge of theft. Soldano pleaded guilty last month to the theft charge stemming from an investigation by the Ohio Auditor’s Public Integrity Assurance Team (PIAT).
Soldano was indicted a year ago on theft in office charges after PIAT determined that he wrote 21 checks to himself from two accounts he operated without the fiscal officer’s knowledge. The payments totaled $14,200 and lacked supporting documentation and authorization from the Columbiana County village.
“Today, justice was served,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “This man betrayed the people of his community, especially his fellow officers in the police department. Instead of being a shining example of integrity, Soldano brought shame to himself. No one is above the law.”
Auditors identified more fraudulent activity while comparing the village’s dispatch logs to Soldano’s leave balances. Records showed Soldano was paid for 258 hours and 15 minutes of leave in 2012 and 2013, but the hours were not deducted from his leave balances. The false leave balances resulted in a $1,716 overpayment for unused leave when Soldano retired in October 2015. Auditors issued $15,916 in findings for recovery against Soldano, which he repaid to the village on Jan. 17, 2017.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.