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Final Special Audit Report Details Investigation, Ultimate Conviction of former Clark County Employee in $1.8 Million Theft Scheme
For Immediate Release
Columbus – A final finding for recovery of more than $1.8 million was issued Thursday against a former employee of the Clark County Auditor’s Office, who for years stole public funds in a scheme involving a phony vendor, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced.
Robert Vanderhorst, 64, already is behind bars, serving a 7-year sentence following his conviction in the case. The finding for recovery announced Thursday is included in the final report of a Special Audit of Clark County, which details the investigation into Vanderhorst’s crimes and his ultimate prosecution.
“Vanderhorst stole money for years to pay for vacations and cruises, vehicles, and other purchases for his own benefit,” Auditor Faber said. “It was a brazen crime against the people of Clark County, and he’s paying the price for his misdeeds.”
The report is available on the Auditor’s website via Audit Search.
Clark County Prosecutor Dan 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 that 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 was expanded and determined 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 totaled more than $1.8 million and occurred from 2005-2021. Vanderhorst was able to issue warrants to his fictitious vendor for his personal benefit due to a lack of management oversight and a failure by the County to segregate duties. Thursday’s Special Audit report included recommendations for improving and instituting internal controls to prevent further illegal expenditures to phony vendors.
Vanderhorst was initially indicted in February 2022 and pleaded guilty in August to felony counts of aggravated theft and theft in office. He was sentenced in September to 7 years in prison and ordered to make restitution of more than $1.87 million, including the money he stole and the cost of his prosecution.
Clark County Common Pleas Judge Douglas M. Rastatter also ordered Vanderhorst to forfeit personal bank account balances, a 2019 Mazda, all monies in his deferred compensation accounts, and his $4,294 monthly Ohio Public Employees Retirement System distribution.
Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 95 convictions resulting in more than $4.9 million in restitution (see the Map of SIU Convictions since January 2019). 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.
Contact: Marc Kovac