Henry County Commissioner Indicted for Conflict of Interest
Columbus – Henry County Commissioner Richard Myers was indicted Wednesday by the Henry County Grand Jury on one count of felony unlawful interest in a public contract, following an investigation by the Auditor of State’s office.
The case was presented by Special Prosecutor Robert Smith, assistant chief legal counsel for Auditor of State Dave Yost. Myers is accused of unlawfully causing public funds to be paid to a private firm and of having a personal financial interest in a related failed research and development project.
“The people of Henry County want their $300,000 back—and who can blame them?” Auditor Yost said. “It takes a special kind of arrogance to be this reckless with the taxpayer checkbook.”
Special Prosecutor Smith was appointed by county Prosecutor John Hanna, who is expected to be a witness to several of the events in question. The Auditor of State’s office was joined in the investigation by officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, due to the involvement of federal development funding in affected county programs.
Myers is alleged to have circumvented laws requiring proper appropriations and contracts for the issuance of public funds, and to have loaned personal funds to the project, signed a note for repayment, and arranged for other private investors—all while acting in his official capacity as a commissioner on matters relating to the project.
The funds were paid to Peter Collorafi, an Australian designer who sought to develop a high mileage concept car. The project collapsed soon after the state of Ohio refused to provide economic development funds to support it.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 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.