Auditor Faber Issues Findings for Recovery for $271k against Former City of Hilliard Recreation Deputy Director
Columbus – In an audit report released today on the City of Hilliard (Franklin County), Auditor of State Keith Faber issues a finding for recovery for $271,898 against Heather Ernst, former city Deputy Director of the Recreation and Parks Department.
From 2012 to November 2017, Ernst was responsible for receiving daily gate admission receipts and making cash deposits for the City of Hilliard’s two recreational pools. During that time, the City of Hilliard Police found that Ernst had been making excessive cash deposits into her personal bank account. After checking her account against the city’s account, investigators uncovered enough evidence to indict Ernst for Theft in Office, Theft, Tampering with Records, and Fraudulent Tax Returns. Ernst pled guilty to one count of Theft in Office and one count of Attempted Tampering with Records on Oct. 3, 2018.
In accordance with a Nov. 16, 2018 court order for restitution, Auditor Faber has issued a finding for recovery against Heather Ernst for $271,898 in favor of the City of Hilliard’s general fund.
“Ernst took advantage of taxpayer’s trust and is rightfully paying the price for her actions” Auditor Faber said. “This action should serve as a reminder that my office is committed to holding to account government officials who steal from Ohioans.”
On December 6, 2018, the City of Hilliard received a payment of $162,081.59 from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The Auditor’s office considers this money a partial repayment on the finding; a balance of $109,816.41 remains unpaid.
On March 15, 2018, the City of Hilliard filed a civil suit against Ernst for additional crimes related to her conduct while employed by the city. The pending litigation between the city and Ernst could result in an additional finding for recovery against Ernst.
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.