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Special Audit Details Check Substitution and Bill Inflation Scheme and Theft by Former Village of Swanton Utility Clerk
For Immediate Release
COLUMBUS – Findings for recovery of $128,684 were issued Tuesday against the former utility clerk for the Village of Swanton, who was sentenced to prison earlier this year after admitting she stole from the Fulton County community using a check substitution and bill inflation scheme, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced.
The total, which included the funds that were stolen and audit costs, matched the restitution Kari Rowe was ordered by Fulton County Common Pleas Court to repay. Rowe’s crimes are detailed in a special audit released Tuesday by the Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU). A copy of the full report is available online (ohioauditor.gov/auditsearch/search.aspx).
Rowe served as Swanton’s utility clerk from May 2002 through January 2018 and was responsible for collecting and depositing customers’ utility payments, among other duties.
SIU opened an investigation into Rowe after serious anomalies were discovered during an audit of village finances for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, including cash utility payments that were not deposited.
SIU ultimately determined Rowe had pocketed $64,342. She was indicted in Fulton County Common Pleas Court in October 2022 and pleaded guilty in February 2023 to a felony count of theft in office.
Tuesday’s special audit report includes management recommendations to prevent comparable thefts of village utility payments.
Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 112 convictions resulting in more than $8.8 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