Special Audit of Perrysburg Schools Released
Columbus – Former Perrysburg Schools employee Eric Whitson stole more than $479,800 from the district, and nearly $181,900 from the Bowling Green Bobcat Athletic Boosters, according to a special audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“Recovering from a theft of this magnitude is never easy,” Auditor Yost said. “Those affected by Whitson’s crimes can hopefully find some relief in knowing that justice has been served.”
The Wood County Prosecutor’s office contacted the Auditor of State’s office in July 2014 concerning an alleged theft by a Perrysburg Exempted Village School District employee. On July 8, 2014, the prosecutor’s office requested a special audit from the Auditor of State’s office, as well as assistance with a criminal investigation. The Auditor of State’s Special Audit Task Force initiated a special audit on July 24, 2014, covering the period January 1, 2009 through July 15, 2014.
During the audit period, Eric Whitson was employed by the school district treasurer’s office as an accounts receivable clerk. Auditors determined that Whitson issued six district checks totaling $156,627 to the Bowling Green Bobcat Athletic Boosters, where he volunteered as a treasurer. The checks were not authorized or for district purposes.
The audit identified checks totaling $169,220 that were used to cover up stolen cash of the same amount. Additionally, checks totaling $71,992 were used without authorization to fund what Whitson claimed were personal and corporate donations to the district’s athletic department. A search warrant executed at Whitson’s residence in July 2014 found $30,398 in undeposited checks and cash that was designated for district purposes. More undeposited checks totaling $10,900 were found in a district storage room.
Findings for recovery totaling $479,873 were issued against Whitson. District Treasurer Matt Feasel is held jointly and severally liable for $91,588 of this amount. An additional finding for recovery in the amount of $3,751 was issued against Feasel for credit card expenditures made by district employees that were unrelated to district operations.
As a volunteer treasurer for the boosters, Whitson used booster accounts to issue himself six checks totaling $19,425 and make 82 electronic payments totaling $121,760 to his personal credit cards. He also issued seven unauthorized checks totaling $17,760 to the Perrysburg Exempted Village School District that were not for booster purposes. The Auditor of State’s office does not have the authority to issue findings for recovery on behalf of the boosters, a nonprofit entity. The audit determined that Whitson stole a total of $181,893 from the group.
The school district terminated Whitson from employment on July 14, 2014. On December 14, 2015, he pled guilty to one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two counts of money laundering, two counts of theft, five counts of theft in office and one count of tampering with records. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on January 11, 2016 and ordered to pay nearly $800,000 in restitution.
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.