Michael J. Murphy, the chief of the Pic-A-Fay Joint Fire District, turned himself into the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) on Wednesday after an investigation revealed he allegedly used village funds to pay his own business to complete work in the village of New Holland.
Murphy, 56, the former New Holland village administrator, was booked after turning himself in on a summons on two charges of having an unlawful interest in a public contract.
Back in 2012, the village of New Holland was in need of maintenance of trucks and other repairs. According to reports from the PCSO, Murphy, then as village administrator, allegedly paid his own company, Agri-Motive in New Holland, to take care of the projects. On top of his salary as administrator, Murphy allegedly paid these funds to his private company for various jobs, including work on village vehicles and for work on water plant machinery.
“This is a tricky situation,” Lt. Dale E. Parish of the Pickaway Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday during an interview. “In a nutshell, after these things occurred, the State Auditor’s Office contacted us concerning these issues in July of 2014. They had a finding of an unlawful interest in a government contract at that point in time because (Murphy) owns and operates Agri-Motive.”
According to the PCSO, the sum total for all of the work completed in the village amounts to 0ver $6,000, but this is not the only contract Murphy had an alleged interest in. The Pic-A-Fay Joint Fire District was also allegedly paying Agri-Motive as well for a few small jobs, which added up to over $500. The result is two felony charges of having an unlawful interest in a public contract from 2012 and 2013, according to Parish.
“The big blow-up on this occurred after the first of the year in 2014,” Parish said. “The more (the village administration) looked into this issue, the more they did not like the situation with Murphy paying his own company to do work on village equipment. Any time it is looked upon, even though the amounts are not as serious as they could be, when it involved public entities it is looked on a lot more seriously at the State Auditor’s Office. The investigation has uncovered a number of other issues, as far as the water project going on in New Holland, that have come up and were laid to rest. As it stands, that is the sum total of what he is facing. He is fully aware that the instances did occur. The village minutes reflect it and there are invoices in the village from Agri-Motive from when he was administrator. The judge put him out (of jail) pending further process of this charge and the investigation is still ongoing.”
Murphy resigned as village administrator on March 10, 2014. The Pic-A-Fay Joint Fire District could not be reached for comment.
Stay with the Record-Herald as more updates become available.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy