Special Audit Issues Over $300,000 in Findings Against Former Chief Deputy of Lima Municipal Court

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Columbus – Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office today released a special audit of the City of Lima Municipal Court, which issued $334,270 in findings for recovery against former Chief Deputy Sue Barnett.

“Diligent local officials and the hardworking people of our Special Investigations Unit brought justice to this gross abuse of public trust,” Auditor Faber said. “The City of Lima deserves better and I trust that better checks in balances have been put in place.”

On May 31, 2017, the Auditor’s office declared a special audit of the Lima Municipal Court after receiving a credible allegation of theft by the current Clerk of Court, Jim Link. Based on preliminary investigations, auditors determined the scope of the audit to be from January 1, 2009 through June 30, 2012.

As Deputy Chief, Barnett was responsible for managing the cashiers working for the court. As manager, her job was to ensure each cashier’s batches for the day agreed with their respective cash drawer. She would then prepare a Daily Cash Drawer Worksheet, which listed the date, batch number, batch totals, list of checks received, total checks received, cash in drawer amount, and total deposit. She would then take the deposit to the bank. This allowed Barnett to have control over all phases of each transaction.

The audit period contained 655 deposits, totaling $6,667,336. Of the 665 deposits, 495 of them included misappropriated cash totaling $96,009. The following table breaks down this amount by year:


Number of Days Misappropriated

Misappropriated Cash













The court conducted their own audit of Barnett, which included an audit period from January 1, 1997 through December 31, 2008. That audit identified $238,699 in misappropriated cash.

On April 18, 2019, Barnett appeared before Judge Jeffery L. Redd and pled guilty to Theft in Office, a felony of the third degree, and to telecommunications fraud, a felony of the third degree.

On September 5, 2019, Barnett agreed to a restitution amount of $331,706 based on both our audit and the internal audit conducted by the court.

On October 18, 2019, Judge Reed sentenced Barnett to 36 months in prison for each count, to be served concurrently. In addition, Reed ordered restitution of $331,706 against Barnett and in favor of Lima Municipal Court.

In accordance with the facts uncovered in the special audit and pursuant to the court order, Auditor Faber issued a finding for recovery for $95,571 against Barnett for misappropriating cash during the period the Auditor’s office examined.

Auditor Faber also issued a finding against Barnett for $238,699 for misappropriated cash covering the period January 1, 1997 through December 31, 2008.

Former Clerk of Court Robert Holmes was responsible for paying over and accounting for these funds coming into the court as required by law from January 1, 1997 to December 31, 2007. Therefore, Robert Holmes is jointly and severally liable for $198,569 total. Also, Ben Diepenbrock, the Clerk of Court who held the same responsibilities as Holmes from January 16, 2008 to June 30, 2012 is jointly and severally liable for $134,284.

A full copy of this audit 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. 


Allie Dumski

Press Secretary

(614) -644-1111