Former Somerset Police Chief Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail
Columbus – Former Somerset Police Chief Jeremy VanDermark was sentenced today to 90 days in the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail for one count of theft in office, a fourth-degree felony, for using the Perry County village’s credit card to pay for personal purchases for his family’s personal vehicles, testosterone supplement and other transactions. The total cost of his improper purchases is nearly $5,189.80.
VanDermark entered his plea on Aug. 9. 2018, before Perry County Common Pleas Court Judge Tina Boyer. Robert Smith, assistant chief legal counsel for the Auditor of State’s office, acted as special prosecutor in the case. VanDermark has already made full restitution. In addition to jail time, the former chief was sentenced to three years of community control. His jail term begins Oct. 4.
“It is highly disappointing to see someone in such an elevated position of public trust violate it, and do so in such a brazen way,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “This case shows that no one, regardless of position of power, is above the law.”
VanDermark was police chief between 2013 and Dec. 5, 2016, when he resigned. His resignation came after Village Council discovered he purchased a set of tires for his personal car and had the village pay the $547 bill under the pretense that they were for a police cruiser. Further investigation by Auditor Yost’s Public Integrity Assurance Team revealed VanDermark used the village credit card to purchase meals, fuel for his personal vehicle and car washes totaling $3,078. He also used the credit card for $1,531 in other purchases.
Investigators also found VanDermark falsely claimed to be a certified canine handler and took possession of Bowie, a Village Police Department canine, who a certified canine handler determined was not performing as required. VanDermark never used Bowie as a police canine but continued to bill the village for Bowie’s vet bills at a cost of $410. He claimed to have purchased Progene as a medicine for the dog to help with his seizures. In fact, Progene is a testosterone supplement that VanDermark admitted was for his personal use.
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.