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Audit Details Superintendent’s Theft from Norwood City Schools, Affiliated Community School
Columbus – A state audit released today explains how a former superintendent managed to siphon off tens of thousands of dollars from the Norwood City School District (Hamilton County) and its affiliated charter school.
Robert Amodio pleaded guilty in November to a theft of more than $60,000 after a routine financial audit of the Norwood Conversion Community School revealed payments to the school were never deposited into its bank account. An ensuing investigation by the Auditor of State’s Public Integrity Assurance Team disclosed that other payments made to the school district were missing as well.
“This thief capitalized on a perfect storm of internal control breakdowns,” Auditor Yost said. “School districts simply cannot afford to overlook weaknesses in their financial processes given the ever-present risk of fraud. Fortunately, in this case, the district recovered the stolen funds.”
Amodio intercepted three checks worth a combined $35,018 paid to the charter school by the Ohio Department of Education before he fraudulently endorsed them with the stamp of the school’s treasurer. He then deposited them into bank accounts of the Valley Association of School Administrators (VASA), where he served as an official.
Amodio, who resigned from the district in August 2017, deposited two more checks totaling $16,750 into VASA accounts. Those checks, issued to the district by a local technology company, were payments for a grant and a reimbursement.
From the VASA accounts, Amodio withdrew $48,650 in cash, wrote himself checks worth $12,020 and paid $5,703 to Capital One, Citibank and Kohl’s for personal expenses.
Bank records show that in June 2017 Amodio tried to refund the charter school for one of the stolen checks worth $14,830, but an insufficient VASA account balance caused his repayment check to bounce. That overdraft, as well as four others, yielded $173 in penalties.
Amodio pleaded guilty to theft in office on Nov. 13, 2017, and was sentenced on Jan. 4 to two years of probation and ordered to pay $63,004 in restitution. The school district received a full repayment from his attorney on the same day.
In a response to the audit findings, the school district said it has taken steps to strengthen its internal controls over finances.
“While no system can always prevent someone with significant access and authority like a superintendent from attempting theft, we can make it extremely difficult and, as here, ultimately unsuccessful,” district officials wrote.
A full copy of the Norwood Conversion Community School audit is available online. A separate financial audit of the school district is still in progress.
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.