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Fairfield County Clerk of Courts Special Audit Released
Nearly $39,000 in Findings Issued
Columbus – Auditor of State Dave Yost today released a special audit report accusing former Fairfield County Clerk of Courts Deborah Smalley and her husband of kickbacks, contract steering, theft and political skullduggery. Findings for recovery total nearly $39,000.
“Talk about a massive abuse of the public trust,” Auditor Yost said. “There’s no excuse and there’s no defense for this behavior. Her day in court can’t come soon enough.”
The special audit found:
- Deborah Smalley required certain employees to conduct campaign work on her behalf during work hours. Auditors found 421 hours valued at $8,853 were accrued and used by employees to work on her campaign. Findings for recovery were issued in that amount.
- A review of office disbursements found that Deborah Smalley made various campaign and personal purchases with county funds invoiced through a county-approved company, but the items were purchased elsewhere.
- Investigators executed a search warrant on Smalley’s residence and found 14 items purchased by the clerk’s office, and were unable to locate an additional 27 items. Another $8,594 in findings for recovery were issued against Deborah Smalley.
Auditors also found an improper interest in a contract between the clerk’s office and 3SG Corporation, which hired Deborah Smalley’s husband, David, as an independent commissioned sales representative for lighting. The clerk’s office disbursed $31,842 for the lighting project and $10,405 was returned upon the request of the county commissioners. David Smalley received an eight percent commission on the contracts totaling $2,580. A finding for recovery in the amount of $21,437 was issued against Deborah Smalley, and David Smalley was held jointly and severally liable for $2,580 of the findings.
Auditors also examined Smalley’s campaign account and found that employees of the clerk’s office were asked to solicit contributions for her campaign. Two employees of the clerk’s office were maintaining documentation related to contributions to Smalley’s campaign. It also was discovered that several contribution checks were deposited directly into the Smalley’s personal bank account or could not be traced at all. Not all contributions were reported on campaign finance reports. These matters were referred to the Ohio Secretary of State and the Fairfield County Board of Elections.
Deborah Smalley was indicted on 12 felony charges and will face trial on August 18, 2014. Auditor of State Assistant Legal Counsel Robert Smith was appointed special prosecutor in the case.
Auditor Yost praised investigators and special audit staff, saying, “Thanks to the good work of our team, one tip led all the way to a charge of racketeering.”
A former employee of the Fairfield County Clerk of Courts contacted the Auditor of State’s office on June 21, 2013 and reported alleged misuse of public funds by Clerk Deborah Smalley. The former employee stated that Smalley provided compensatory time to employees in exchange for working on her campaign and used office funds to purchase campaign supplies. The Auditor of State’s Special Audit Task Force evaluated the information, and a special audit was launched on August 6, 2013.
A full copy of this special audit may be accessed online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 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.