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Audit Finds Former Leetonia Police Chief Managed Secret Village Bank Accounts
Columbus – A former Village of Leetonia (Columbiana County) police chief managed two secret bank accounts from which he paid himself more than $14,000, according to an audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Former Police Chief John Soldano was indicted in May on a third-degree felony count of theft in office after the Auditor of State’s Public Integrity Assurance Team determined he wrote 21 checks to himself from two accounts he operated without the fiscal officer’s knowledge.
The payments, totaling $14,200, lacked supporting documentation and authorization from the village.
“A police chief should be the gold standard of integrity for a community,” Auditor Yost said. “It’s a sad day for everyone in law enforcement when one of their own abuses the public’s trust.”
Auditors identified more fraudulent activity while comparing the village’s dispatch logs to Soldano’s leave balances. Records showed Soldano was paid for 258 hours and 15 minutes of leave in 2012 and 2013, but the hours were not deducted from his leave balances. The false leave balances resulted in a $1,716 overpayment for unused leave when Soldano retired in October 2015.
Auditors issued $15,916 in findings for recovery against Soldano, which he repaid to the village on Jan. 17, 2017. He is scheduled to be arraigned at 1 p.m. today at the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 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.