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Former Licking County Building Services Director Sentenced Following Conviction in Phony Invoice Scheme
For Immediate Release
COLUMBUS – The former building services director for Licking County was sentenced to 30 months in prison Monday after admitting his role in the theft of nearly $193,000 as part of a phony invoice scheme, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced.
Donald Dunston also was ordered to make restitution of $192,672.97 and pay $20,397.50 in audit costs after pleading guilty earlier this month to single counts of attempted engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and theft in office and three counts of tampering with records, all felonies.
Dunston had already paid restitution and audit costs prior to his Monday afternoon hearing in Licking County Common Pleas Court.
The Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) conducted the investigation following a request from the Licking County Sheriff’s Office in June 2018, with concerns about Dunston, who was fired from his position as Licking County building services director in May 2018 after questions arose about his potential improper use of a county-issued credit card to purchase fuel for a vehicle not owned by the county.
A subsequent review of Dunston’s purchasing activities as building services director uncovered numerous questionable transactions, including payments made to a fake janitorial service owned by a Texas man, William Crawford.
Crawford and Dunston were onetime neighbors in Texas.
SIU determined that 109 checks totaling $173,469 were paid to Crawford’s business, Crawford R.A.W. Janitorial, through fake invoices approved by Dunston, knowing that no supplies or equipment were provided to the county.
SIU also identified six checks totaling $19,203 that were paid to a Texas business, Whirl of Windy, for supplies and equipment that were not provided to the county. Windy Miller, of Frisco, Texas, owner of the business, was indicted for her role in the case and pleaded guilty in September 2021 to a single felony count of theft.
Crawford pleaded guilty in January to felony counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, and tampering with records and was sentenced earlier this month to four years in prison. Miller was sentenced to 10 days in jail, five years of community control, and fined $2,500.
SIU attorneys have served as special prosecutors in the case.
Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 105 convictions resulting in more than $5 million in restitution (see?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 866-FRAUD-OH (866-372-8364).
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 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