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Findings for Recovery Totaling $13,783 Issued Against Two Former Martins Ferry City Schools Officials
For Immediate Release
Contact: Marc Kovac
Columbus – Findings for recovery of $13,783 were issued Tuesday against two former Martins Ferry City School District officials, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced.
The total included $12,225 against former District Superintendent Dirk Fitch and $1,558 against former Middle School Principal Michael Delatore who, along with a third individual, were convicted of theft-related crimes following an investigation by the Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit.
The cases involved the Martins Ferry City Schools’ Student Activity Growth Fund, which collected donations and other miscellaneous revenues, including vending machine sales, then used the proceeds to pay for various athletic projects, including the upgrading and installation of artificial turf at the District’s football field.
Fitch maintained the Growth Fund checking account and was solely responsible for deposits and payments. State auditors found that, between March 24, 2014, and Dec. 1, 2015, Fitch wrote 17 checks totaling $12,225 to himself, without sufficient documentation available to confirm the disbursements were proper and for District purposes.
Separately, Delatore participated in a scheme with his brother-in-law, Robert Kimble, to improperly leverage matching contributions to the Growth Fund from Kimble’s employer. State auditors determined that Delatore wrote four checks totaling $13,300 from his personal accounts to Kimble, who, in turn, donated the funds directly to the Growth Fund, triggering double matching contributions from Kimble’s employer.
Kimble pleaded guilty in Belmont County Common Pleas Court in August 2021 to one count of grand theft for his part in the scheme. He was sentenced to two years of community control and repaid his employer the $26,600 in improper Growth Fund contributions.
Fitch pleaded guilty in November 2021 to one count of complicity to grand theft and was sentenced to one year of community control.
Delatore pleaded guilty in February 2022 to one count of theft in office and was sentenced to one year community control and ordered to make restitution for audit costs.
Tuesday’s Findings for Recovery included improper disbursements made by Fitch and the $1,558 in audit costs against Delatore.
Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 81 convictions resulting in more than $2.7 million in restitution (Map of SIU Convictions Since January 2019: ohioauditor.gov/fraud/convictions_map.html). The team receives hundreds of tips of suspected fraud annually. Tips can be submitted anonymously online or via SIU’s fraud hotline at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).
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.