Former City of Lorain Clerk of Courts Paid Out $70,910 in Improper Compensation
For Immediate Release
Columbus – Auditor of State Keith Faber issued a finding for recovery Thursday totaling $70,910 against former City of Lorain Clerk of Courts Lori Maiorana after a formal review confirmed she improperly altered employees’ timecards and payroll records, increasing their take-home pay and overstating their leave balances.
The total is included in a Public Interest Report of the City of Lorain Clerk of Courts Payroll from June 1, 2014, through Sept. 14, 2018, and was the result of an investigation into discrepancies brought to the Auditor of State’s attention by the City of Lorain Police Department.
“A rock solid foundation of fiscal checks and balances is essential at every level of government in the fight against waste and abuse of our tax dollars,” said Auditor Faber. “A key measure in preventing fraud is urging employees to come forward when they suspect public dollars are being misspent.”
The Lorain Police Department began investigating payroll discrepancies in the city clerk of court’s office in October 2018, following allegations that employees were being paid for hours they didn’t work. The Auditor of State’s Office ultimately reviewed timesheets and other payroll and attendance records to determine the full scope of potential wrongdoing.
Auditors confirmed Maiorana added overtime hours to employees’ pay, switched claimed leave hours to regular hours or made other changes without a valid reason or affected employees’ knowledge. According to the report, “While employees were expected to submit a completed and signed timesheet at the conclusion of a pay period, many modifications were made directly to the timesheets or directly through the payroll system by the clerk of court subsequent to the employee submission and without any documentation, rationale, or apparent knowledge of the employee.”
The total included more than 1,976 hours of overtime, at a cost of $40,317.26, and 1,841-plus leave hours at a cost of $30,592.85. On the latter, the change from claimed leave to regular hours meant employees retained earned time off for use later or to be paid out directly if they left their positions.
Auditor Faber recommended the city establish controls to detect or prevent comparable unsubstantiated payroll changes. According to the report, “Ms. Maiorana collected completed timesheets for review, reviewed those timesheets, and would input data into the city’s payroll system without further review within the department. An improved internal control system over payroll processing and segregation of duties would have increased the likelihood the noncompliance and deficiencies would have prevented or detected and corrected earlier.”
Maiorana retired from her position as clerk of courts on Jan. 1, 2019, a year before the end of her elected term, citing health reasons. According to the report, she “has not provided a substantive response but through her attorney continues to deny any liability in relation to any overpayment to employees working in her office.”
The full report is available on the AOS website using Audit Search.
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.