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Former London City Auditor Pleads Guilty to Theft in Office
Columbus – The former City Auditor of London (Madison County) pleaded guilty today to theft in office for his failure to reimburse the city for his health insurance costs and for an unauthorized pay increase for a fellow employee.
Nicholas Szabo, who resigned from office in December, 2017 when confronted with facts surrounding his theft, pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree felony before Judge Eamon Costello in Madison County Common Pleas Court. Szabo will be sentenced June 7.
Auditors determined Szabo improperly had his entire health insurance costs paid for by the city. Months after he became city auditor in January of 2016, Szabo provided a payroll clerk an old city ordinance requiring the city to pay all of his health insurance costs. However, City Council had approved a newer ordinance voiding the benefit. Szabo was aware of the change because he handled these matters when he was deputy city auditor.
“Crooks think they can outsmart everyone and can get away with stealing, but they are often wrong,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “This man knew what he was doing was wrong, and he is paying the price: He’s now a felon. Once again, justice prevails.”
Szabo also gave an unauthorized pay raise to Debbie Elliott, a former clerk in his office in May, 2016. The raise was caught by the city law director and later voided. Szabo also attempted to get a pay raise for Elliott approved during collective bargaining, but ultimately failed. Then, in December of 2016, Szabo signed a memorandum of understanding giving Elliott a pay raise of 4 percent, even though he was not authorized to do so.
Robert Smith, assistant chief legal counsel for the Auditor of State’s office, acted as special prosecutor in the case.
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.