Hamilton County -
Auditor of State Mary Taylor today released the special audit investigation of the village of Lockland Mayor’s Court. The report names two employees who established various schemes to defraud the village out of more than $315,000.
Investigators and auditors with the Auditor of State’s office conducted a thorough review of thousands of mayor’s court documents. Nearly 6,000 hand-written customer receipts, more than 8,000 individual court files and 21 months of bank activity, including statements and cancelled checks, were examined for the period of July 1, 2005 through April 12, 2007. Investigators also interviewed more than a dozen witnesses and worked with the county prosecutor’s office to issue multiple court subpoenas to determine the amount and extent of the theft.
Taylor initiated the investigation on May 14, 2007 when village officials informed auditors of theft allegations in the Lockland Mayor’s Court.
“We will not tolerate the fraud, theft or misuse of public funds,” Taylor said. “Our investigators and auditors worked tirelessly over several months reviewing thousands of financial transactions to document the extent of the fraud involved in this case. A special audit investigation is a resource we provide local officials seeking a thorough review of allegations of fraud, waste and abuse of public tax dollars.”
The investigation reveals that former Lockland Mayor’s Court Clerk Dana Mynatt failed to deposit $188,481 in cash and checks she received from defendants paying court fines and fees. On June 13, 2008, Mynatt, 36, of Lockland, Ohio, was charged with theft in office, tampering with records, unauthorized use of village property and forgery.
The report outlines how Mynatt discontinued the use of mayor’s court software and relied solely on a manual receipt book to track financial transactions. A thorough review of village finances found that Mynatt oftentimes substituted checks and credit card payments for cash payments, voided valid receipts and made inaccurate entries into the mayor’s court accounting system.
Meanwhile, auditors discovered that former village payroll clerk Debra Reynolds wrote herself 156 unauthorized paychecks totaling $128,016. On February 7, 2008, Reynolds, 42, of Reading, Ohio, pled guilty to theft in office and on March 12, 2008, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay the village $60,105 in restitution.
The report also outlines several recommendations village officials should consider to improve internal controls and to reduce the risk of fraud or theft from occurring in the future. The recommendations include:
- Requiring the mayor or a designee to review all financial transactions and ensure that deposits are made within 24 hours
- Maintaining all required financial documents and court cases as required by state law
- Reviewing bank statements monthly since auditors identified many that were never opened by village officials
A copy of the complete audit is available online at www.auditor.state.oh.us.