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Audit Holds Ex-Veterans Service Officials Accountable for $75K in Losses
Columbus – An audit of Licking County released today names two former administrators of the Veterans Service Commission responsible for more than $75,000 in financial losses.
The report from Auditor of State Dave Yost’s office orders former Director Michael Holmes and Marishca Love-Walker, former financial assistance administrator, to repay $44,838 and $30,382, respectively.
From January 2014 through September 2016, Holmes repeatedly violated the commission’s policies by providing unauthorized and excessive financial assistance to veterans, some of whom were ineligible for benefits. On several occasions, he also altered applications or failed to review them altogether.
“It is especially shameful when a wrongdoing comes at the expense of veterans and their families,” Auditor Yost said. “The commission needs to demand the highest standard of integrity from its staff moving forward.”
Auditors issued a finding for recovery against Holmes for $44,838 in financial assistance payments he requested from the county auditor that were outside the parameters of the commission’s established guidelines. The commission fired him on Jan. 26, 2017.
Another finding for recovery was issued against Love-Walker, who stole the identities of 32 veteran clients in a scheme that defrauded the county out of $30,382. Using falsified records, she submitted 65 fraudulent requests for financial assistance payments that she kept for her personal use. She resigned in October 2016.
Love-Walker pleaded no contest on June 19 to charges of theft, identify fraud and tampering with records. Licking County Common Pleas Judge David Branstool sentenced her to 60 days in jail, five years of probation and ordered her to pay restitution. She has repaid $2,000 to the county.
A full copy of the fiscal emergency termination is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 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.