Ex-Miami County Fair manager faces felony charge tied to barn repair contract

Nicholas Shellenberger was indicted after an investigation into a fraud complaint and will be arraigned Monday

TROY — The former board president and manager of the Miami County Fair has been indicted by a county grand jury on a felony count of having an unlawful interest in a public contract.

Nicholas David Shellenberger, 45, of Pleasant Hill, was indicted after an investigation into a complaint alleging potential fraud, which was filed by a fair board member last November with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.

Shellenberger is scheduled for arraignment Monday, March 6 in county Common Pleas Court.

The indictment alleges Shellenberger between July and November 2021 as a public official used “the authority or influence of his office to secure authorization of any public contract in which he, a member of his family or any of his business associates had an interest.”

An initial report by the sheriff’s office stated that following an allegation, the office obtained recorded fair board meetings from October and November 2022 and interviewed several people including board members, contractors and Shellenberger.

Shellenberger did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Michelle Green, current president of the fair board, also known as the Miami County Agricultural Society, issued the following statement when contacted:

“Last fall, members of the Miami County Fair Board identified some financial inconsistencies concerning the use of funds and payments to certain vendors. We would like to thank the Miami County Sheriff’s Office for their work in investigating these matters. The Miami County Fair Board has elected new leadership and is committed to accountability and transparency,” Green said.

“We would also like to thank the people of Miami County for their continued support of the fairgrounds. We look forward to a full summer calendar, which includes the very popular Food Truck Rally and the 2023 Miami County Fair with new and exciting entertainment, vendors and food options,” Green said.

The sheriff’s office investigation report states the complaint centered on contracting and use of a grant and other funds for repairs to horse barns at the fairgrounds.

The report outlined the investigation of the fraud complaint involving the fair board, a nonprofit organization. The organization receives funding from county taxpayers as well as grants and funds from others to operate the yearly fair and other activities.

The complaint involved matching grants received by the MCAS from the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association to offset the costs of repairs or upgrades to horse barns. The grants offered $10,000 reimbursement if $20,000 in work was done and proof of work submitted.

Those interviewed about the allegations expressed concern about when and how the money was spent and who was paid to do what work.

The report alleges Shellenberger “who at the time was president and fair manager … did falsify documents submitted to the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association in order to obtain grant money. In that process, Nick Shellenberger caused false invoices to be submitted to the MCAS for payment of services that had not been provided, and in the 2021 case, never provided.”

Shellenberger worked for a company tied to the false invoices, according to the report. Checks totaling more than $12,000 were in question, with $6,900 reimbursed to the MCAS during the investigation, for work that was not completed, the report states.

The investigator wrote that “it appears that there was little to no oversite on the project,” a statement he said was shared with Shellenberger whom he said, “did not disagree with that statement.”

Miami County owns most of the fairgrounds and has contracted for more than $3 million in improvements now underway at the facility’s Grandstand. The fairgrounds is located just north of Troy.

“The Miami County commission has a long history of support for our fair and its programming. We are grateful for the steps that the fair board has taken over the past several months to reorganize the operations,” Commission President Wade Westfall said.

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