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Final Findings for Recovery Issued Against Former Nelsonville Deputy Auditor Following Fraud Convictions, Prison Sentence
For Immediate Release
Contact: Marc Kovac
Columbus – Findings for Recovery of $336,325 were formally issued Thursday against the former deputy auditor of the City of Nelsonville, who was twice convicted and is serving a 59-month prison sentence after she was caught stealing from the public coffers, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced.
The findings against Stephanie Wilson were included in a special audit report, marking the formal completion of work by the Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) into crimes committed over an 8-year period in the Athens County community. A copy of the full special audit report is available online at https://ohioauditor.gov/auditsearch/search.aspx.
In February 2020, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn sought forensic audit assistance from SIU to determine the full extent of Wilson’s wrongdoing. Through its subsequent criminal investigation and special audit work, SIU determined Wilson overpaid herself, created two fictitious employees and had their paychecks deposited into accounts she controlled, among other illegal acts.
Wilson was initially indicted in February 2020 and pleaded guilty in December 2020 to counts of tampering with records, forgery, telecommunications fraud, and theft in office. She was sentenced to 59 months in prison and ordered to repay $241,839.31.
In March 2021, before sentencing in the initial case, Wilson was indicted on additional counts after SIU determined income tax refund checks had been issued to fictitious companies or individuals and deposited into accounts controlled by Wilson. She pleaded guilty in that case and was sentenced in April 2022 to an additional 4 years in prison, to be served concurrently with her prior sentence.
Wilson is also “forever barred from holding any public employment, public position or position of trust.”
As part of her sentences in Athens County Common Pleas Court, Wilson was ordered to make restitution totaling nearly $292,000, which included both City funds that were stolen and special audit costs. She also was fined $20,000.
Thursday’s finding against Wilson of $336,325 included additional amounts for income tax receipts, penalties, and unsupported expenses that were not included in the court judgments.
Former Nelsonville City Auditors Garry Dickerson (along with his bonding company) and Mike Elliot, who authorized some of the improper expenditures and were responsible for monitoring employees paid by the city, are jointly and severally liable for a portion of Wilson’s findings for recovery.
Restitution payments totaling $26,808 have been issued to the City of Nelsonville since May 2021, leaving a remaining unpaid balance owed by Wilson of $309,517.
There was one additional finding for recovery included in the report released Thursday – $540 against former Chief Deputy Auditor Brenda Anderson for unused vacation and longevity overpayments she received when she retired.
“We appreciate the cooperation of the City of Nelsonville in holding these individuals accountable,” Auditor Faber said. “If you suspect someone is violating the public’s trust, please call our Fraud Hotline at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).”
Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 94 convictions resulting in more than $4.9 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.