Columbus – Falsified authorization to increase her own pay and writing checks to her own family members—then endorsing them herself—were among findings in excess of $9,700 issued against the former clerk of the Village of Jerusalem (Monroe County), according to a special audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Michelle Kurtz was indicted in August by the Monroe County Grand Jury on charges of theft in office and tampering with records. The theft was discovered by village officials, who contacted the Auditor of State’s office.
“It is hard to police your own, and I commend the village for flagging the problem as they did,” Auditor Yost said. “As much as we all want to believe in the good faith of our government officials, the truth is too many are too susceptible to the fraud triangle of opportunity, need and rationalization.”
During a three-year period, Kurtz received authorized compensation of approximately $4,800 annually. Among her duties were preparing minutes of meetings and issuing checks for payroll and other village expenditures. During a regular financial audit, Kurtz presented to auditors minutes and an ordinance authorizing an increase in her salary; village officials identified the minutes and ordinance as fraudulent.
Non-payroll checks totaling $9,052 written to Kurtz were not authorized by council. Kurtz repaid $500 to the village prior to the initiation of the special audit and an additional $3,000 during the audit, resulting in a finding for recovery in the amount of $5,552.
Kurtz also wrote checks to her son totaling $4,150 that village officials said were not authorized, resulting in a second finding for recovery against Kurtz in the amount of $4,150.
A full copy of this audit can be found online.
The Auditor of State is one of five independently elected statewide offices under the Ohio Constitution. Auditor Yost’s office is responsible for auditing over 5,600 state and local government agencies. Staff also works in partnership with state and local governments to deal effectively with financial, accounting and budgetary issues.