Ohio Auditor of State’s Office Awarded by Peers for Excellence in Accountability

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

NSAA 2018 Award for Excellence Forensic Report Award

Columbus – The Ohio Auditor of State’s special audit of Mt. Sterling has earned an Excellence in Accountability Award from the National State Auditors Association (NSAA), Auditor Yost announced today.

The award recognizes the office’s work in uncovering extensive corruption and almost $1 million in illegal spending at the small Madison County village. The special audit was instrumental in securing the convictions of four administrators and employees, including former Mayor Charles Neff and former Village Administrator Joseph Johnson.

“The exemplary professionals of my office continually get results – and justice – for Ohio’s taxpayers,” Auditor Yost said. “This recognition from their peers is evidence of the first-rate work rooted in every audit and investigation they perform.”

The Auditor’s Public Integrity Assurance Team (PIAT) spearheaded both the investigation and subsequent prosecution. The case yielded four of the 160 convictions that have resulted from the work of the Auditor’s office since 2011.

Senior Forensic Audit Manager Melissa Barnett and Fraud Investigator Dennis Graul will accept the award at the NSAA’s annual conference on June 14 in Biloxi, Mississippi. This is the second time the Auditor’s office has earned the recognition, having received the award in 2014 for a special audit of the Cuyahoga Heights Local School District.

Released in January, the Mt. Sterling report orders 11 people to repay a combined $998,050 to the village. More than 87 percent of the amount is linked directly to former Village Administrator Joseph Johnson, who used his village-issued credit card to purchase scores of high-priced personal items. 

Johnson pleaded guilty to seven felonies in March 2017 and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. The financial impact of his crimes is largely responsible for the village’s fiscal emergency status, which Auditor Yost declared in June 2017.

The NSAA is an organization dedicated to improving state government by providing opportunities for the free exchange of information and ideas and promoting accountability, transparency and the observance of professional audit standards.


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.

Beth Gianforcaro
Press Secretary