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Former Harrison County Probation Officer Repays Stolen Court Revenue
Columbus – A former probation officer has repaid $24,020 she stole from the Harrison County Court, according to an audit of the county released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Janel McGowan-Banks pleaded guilty in September 2017 to theft in office and tampering with records after the county noticed discrepancies in its bank deposits. An ensuing investigation by the Auditor’s Public Integrity Assurance Team (PIAT) revealed that she shorted bank deposits by $24,020 during 2016.
The theft occurred while McGowan-Banks was assisting the clerk of court’s office in preparing daily deposits, taking funds to the bank and completing monthly bank reconciliations.
“Too many local governments lack the safeguards needed to spot the telltale signs of theft,” Auditor Yost said. “As a start, public officials can do themselves a big favor by routinely verifying that revenue amounts agree with bank deposits.”
The audit report contains a $24,020 finding for recovery against McGowan-Banks, which she repaid on Sept. 5, 2017.
On Nov. 7, 2017, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail, five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution. Stephanie Anderson of PIAT served as special prosecutor for the case.
In a response to the audit, the court said it has taken steps to limit its exposure to fraud.
A special report published by Auditor Yost in November highlights the dangers local governments face when collection processes go unchecked. According to the report, more than $3.4 million in payments received by local governments in the past decade never made it into the government accounts.
A full copy of this report is available online.
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 Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.