Press Release Ohio Auditor of State

Special Audit Details Investigation into Improper Ammunition Purchase by Former Bolivar Police Officer

For Immediate Release

Thursday, June 27, 2024

COLUMBUS — A special audit released Thursday details the investigation into a former Bolivar police officer, who was convicted of using his position to improperly procure ammunition for a Strasburg gun shop owner.

Former police Sgt. Jeffrey Stearns and G&R Tactical owner William “Grant” Timberlake pleaded guilty and were sentenced earlier in the case.

The Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) launched its investigation in February 2022 after the former mayor of Bolivar voiced concerns about Stearns’ use of a village account to purchase ammunition.

SIU determined that between May 1, 2021, and Feb. 28, 2022, Stearns used the village’s tax-exempt status and law enforcement discount to purchase more than 64,000 rounds of ammunition, which were then turned over to Timberlake’s business.

A total of $10,896 worth of ammunition was purchased through the village account though not intended for use by the police department. Timberlake’s business reimbursed the village for the purchases, using cashier’s checks to conceal the source of the funds.

Stearns and Timberlake were indicted in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court in August 2023 and pleaded guilty in February 2024 — Stearns to a felony count of telecommunications fraud and Timberlake to a misdemeanor count of attempted telecommunications fraud — as part of a plea agreement.

Stearns was sentenced to five years of community control and 150 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay about $2,932 in audit costs, and he agreed not to seek public employment for five years.

Timberlake was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 90 days of house arrest, two years of community control, and 100 hours of community service. He was also fined $1,000.

No findings for recovery were issued in the case, as payments for the ammunition purchases were already reimbursed. SIU did refer its findings to the Ohio Department of Taxation, however, regarding the misuse of the village’s tax-exempt account.

The full special audit report is available online via Search Audits (ohioauditor.gov/auditsearch/search.aspx).

“This case was a good example of a local official who got wind of potential fraudulent activity and contacted SIU,” said Auditor of State Keith Faber. “We encourage anyone who suspects fraud, waste, or abuse of public resources by public officials or employees to contact my office at 866-FRAUD-OH (866-372-8364) or FraudOhio@ohioauditor.gov.”

Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 120 convictions resulting in more than $8.3 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. 

Public Affairs
Contact: Marc Kovac