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Former Clark County Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft of $1.8 Million
For Immediate Release
Contact: Marc Kovac
Columbus – A former employee in the Clark County Auditor’s Office has pleaded guilty to two criminal counts, admitting he stole $1.8 million in public funds through a scheme involving phony vendor payments, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced Friday.
Robert M. Vanderhorst appeared in Clark County Common Pleas Court Thursday afternoon and pleaded guilty to felony counts of theft and theft in office. Sentencing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 15.
“This is one of the largest thefts committed by a public employee in our state and an egregious crime against the people of Clark County,” Auditor Faber said. “I commend Clark County Prosecutor Dan Driscoll for his diligence in ensuring justice was served and Vanderhorst repays every penny he took.”
Prosecutor Driscoll launched an investigation after receiving a tip about a suspicious vendor account that received county payments but had no address, no tax identification number, and no description of work being performed.
Driscoll confirmed an initial $110,000 payment to the suspicious vendor ultimately was deposited into a bank account maintained by Vanderhorst.
With assistance from the Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the investigation confirmed that Vanderhorst, a longtime employee of the Clark County Auditor’s Office, opened a phony vendor bank account, deposited county checks into it, and then transferred those balances into a personal bank account or withdrew cash for his own use.
The thefts occurred from 2005-2021. As part of a plea agreement, Vanderhorst must make restitution of $1.8 million.
“SIU is working every day with local prosecutors and our other law enforcement partners to uncover wrongdoing and protect the public coffers,” Auditor Faber said. “Their work has led to 85 criminal convictions of former public officials in the past four years. If you see or suspect something is amiss, call our fraud hotline at 1-866-372-8364 today.”
Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 85 convictions resulting in more than $2.7 million in restitution (Map of SIU Convictions Since January 2019: https://ohioauditor.gov/fraud/convictions_map.html). The team receives hundreds of tips of suspected fraud annually. Tips can be submitted anonymously online or via SIU’s fraud hotline at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).
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.