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Auditor Faber Identifies Almost $80,000 in Money Collected But Not Accounted For in the City of Bedford
Columbus – Auditor of State Keith Faber today released a special audit and criminal investigation of the City of Bedford (Cuyahoga County). The investigation identified almost $80,000 in monies collected by the city but not deposited into city bank accounts and issued a finding for recovery against former city water department clerks, Linda Yarish and Joan Law.
“I commend the City of Bedford and my Special Investigations Unit on their work to uncover this abuse,” Auditor Faber said. “Lying, cheating, and stealing to obtain taxpayer dollars is a significant breach of public trust and I will hold to account any public officials guilty of these crimes.”
On September 20, 2016, a city utility customer presented a receipt of payment to Yarish, which had not been posted to the client’s account. Yarish notified the City Manager of the incident. City video surveillance indicated Law collected the payment. The city’s Police Chief and City Manager interviewed Law regarding the incident and she admitted to stealing from the Water Department. As a result, the city terminated Law and on September 29, 2016, the city contacted the Auditor’s office to report the theft.
The city also suspected Yarish of theft, so they reviewed receipts collected on days when Law was absent and found $574 in missing funds for May 20, 2016 – May 31, 2016, a period when Law was on vacation. The city then terminated Yarish as well.
On December 12, 2016 the Auditor’s office initiated a special audit on the City of Bedford Water Department’s utility collections. Auditors uncovered 714 receipts totaling $76,869 in which monies collected were not deposited into the city bank account.
Yarish and Law were the only two city employees responsible for collecting, processing, and depositing water department receipts. As such, the Auditor’s office reviewed their leave records and identified the following:
· There were 50 days where Law was solely responsible for the day’s receipt collections as Yarish was absent from work. For those days, auditors identified 182 receipts totaling $19,359.
· There were 18 days in which Yarish was solely responsible for the day’s collections as Law was absent from work. For those days, auditors identified 58 receipts totaling $7,183.
· There were 142 days where both Yarish and Law were jointly responsible for the day’s collections. For those days, auditors identified 474 receipts totaling $50,327.
Auditor Faber issued a finding for recovery against Law for $19,359, against Yarish for $7,183, and against them both, jointly and severally, for $50,327.
The city has subsequently implemented improved internal controls by adding user identification tracking for all transactions and restricted administrative access. Auditor Faber recommends the city continue to pursue improvements to their policies and periodically evaluates their effectiveness.
A full copy of this special audit 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 Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.