Fox4 reports that as much as $1 million is missing from the Johnson County Courthouse, and County Chairman Ed Eilert won’t say much about it. He told Fox4 that it is strictly a district court matter, but there are a lot of unanswered questions.
A court administrator told Fox4 that there were accounting irregularities between 2010 and 2018 and that illegal activity cannot be ruled out.
Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara was shocked by the report because she wasn’t informed of an embezzlement issue when she was sworn into office in 2021.
“I was never briefed on embezzlement in district court funds. I do not know if other members have been or not. I will push for full disclosure of the details as they are given to me and demand that they not be hidden behind executive session privilege. Transparency in government is a must,” said O’Hara to Fox4.
Eilert said yesterday in the Commission meeting that this is a state issue, not a county issue, but O’Hara says her sources say there is also some county money missing. The Sentinel asked Eilert if any county money missing but he replied in an email, “It is my understanding that the investigation is on going (sic), therefore I am unable to comment.”
We also asked Eilert if any audits conducted by the County raised any concerns about internal controls in the courthouse or the law library, but he wouldn’t comment.
Johnson County hires unqualified internal auditor
The Sentinel today submitted Open Records requests for performance audit reports to see if any concerns were raised about internal controls. The audit reports may be telling, particularly because Johnson County hired an unqualified Interim County Auditor last year.
Johnson County Board of Commissioners Charter Resolution 24-88 Sec.[XV]-(2) says, “No person shall be eligible for appointment to the position of internal auditor who does not at the time of appointment meet the minimum qualifications established by the Board for the position, which shall include educational requirements and professional designation, including but not limited to certified internal auditor or certified public accountant or similar, equivalent certification.”
Deputy Director of Legal Cynthia Dunham tried to tell The Sentinel that they can hire an unqualified auditor because the County Commissioners made a change to Human Resource Policies. Dunham ignored our request for documentation of the alleged change, but it’s moot even they did as they claim. County officials cannot amend the county charter by simply changing HR policy.
Johnson County doesn’t conduct internal financial audits
A source tells The Sentinel that the audits performed by Johnson County are just performance audits, not financial audits. The difference is explained by the Ohio State Auditor.
“Performance audits examine the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and functions with the goal of making them better. While financial audits determine if public funds are spent legally and managed in accordance with accounting principles, performance audits examine if funds are spent wisely and if programs achieve their intended purpose.”
Johnson County submits to required external financial audits, but $1 million is beyond the materiality scope of an audit of a $1 billion entity.
The Sentinel asked Eilert why Johnson County doesn’t conduct internal financial audits, (which likely would catch $1 million missing) but he didn’t respond.