AMHERST — Two state auditors have been fired for failing to catch warning signs that nearly $500,000 had been siphoned from operating accounts in a small-town scandal in Lorain County.
The announcement came Friday in a press conference held by Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Auditor William Barile, a 23-year employee of the state office, and his direct supervisor, Donna Busser, the audit manager, were terminated.
“This morning I fired that son of a (expletive),” Yost said of Barile, later adding, “It is unclear whether Mr. Barile acted out of simple negligence or by other motivations.”
Jim Milton, the senior auditor overseeing Busser and Barile’s work, was demoted to audit manager and suspended for five days, Yost said.
The house-cleaning is linked to allegations against former village clerk Kimberly Green, who was indicted May 1 on felony counts of theft, tampering with records, and withholding retirement benefits.
The 53-year-old resigned in April after police began investigating cash missing from the general fund, which pays for day-to-day operations for the village of South Amherst.
Yost said he started asking questions and investigating the alleged thefts in May. Red flags were raised by public documents that were not immediately made available to his office for review.
“What we discovered is that the nature of the theft was (Green) was writing checks to herself and then in the general ledger was noted the payee as someone other than her,” he said. “She was writing these checks to herself.”
The payee on the checks and the payee notated in the general fund did not match and should have been a huge red flag, Yost said: “If our auditors (had) seen that they would have taken action.”
“As it turns out, 11 of the checks that she wrote to herself were part of the sample that our audit included,” he said. “The line auditor that was charged with doing this noted in his work papers that he had seen these checks and he had compared them to the books and that they matched.”
Yost said Barile did not do his job and his action is “a significant failure of duty.”
According to Yost, Barile said he is diabetic and couldn’t see the checks signed by Green.
Yost said Green’s actions could have been caught by the second quarter of 2014. “An alarm bell should have been going off,” he said in regard to his departmental audit.
“I apologize to the people of this village,” Yost said. “There is no excuse for this failure. We have acted quickly to address the failure and to take the necessary corrective actions within the office.”
Yost is reviewing Barile’s paperwork on other jobs to make sure there were no other mistakes.
“We have undertaken a review of our processes and we’ll probably have some changes made in how supervisors check and confirm the work of the line auditors,” Yost said.
Barile does not face criminal charges at this time but an investigation has been launched.
“This is the most disappointing day of my life in public service,” Yost said. “The betrayal of our duty and our mission is devastating not only to me but to our entire office.”
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-988-2801 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.