COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s state auditor says there’s no statistically significant proof that government corruption occurs more frequently in smaller communities amid a rash of recent corruption charges, but notes those communities often feel the effects more than their larger counterparts.
State Auditor Dave Yost told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2aELURb) smaller governments typically have a smaller pool of people to draw from and that employees often must share duties.
“In a big city, folks realize every once in a while you’re going to get a bad apple,” Yost said. “In a small town, you probably grew up with (the official in question). I don’t know how you put a dollar value on that damage, but it’s very real, and it goes to the core of the community’s identity.”
Kent Scarrett, executive director of the Ohio Municipal League, said small towns face uphill battles, with officials confronted by tight budgets and meager pay. Scarrett said these officials often do the work because they love and support their communities.
Authorities have accused Mount Sterling village Administrator Joe Johnson of stealing nearly $1 million from the village in Madison County. Last month, he was charged with 22 counts of theft in office, as well as money laundering, theft, tampering with evidence and failing to file tax returns.
Less than two weeks later, former Alexandria Fiscal Officer Laura VanScoy Andrews was charged with theft in office and other charges. She stands accused of stealing about $80,000 from the Licking County village.
Drew Hastings, mayor of the small city of Hillsboro in Highland County, was indicted last month on charges of theft, theft in office, tampering with records and election falsification.
The Fiscal Integrity Act was, enacted in March 2015, requires fiscal officers to participate in mandatory training.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com