Special prosecutor requested to pursue $25K county recovery

A state audit released in October claims former director Bob Suver and others illegally spent nearly $25,000 in public money by donating it to a children’s services levy campaign fund.

The finding for recovery says the money must be payed back by the parties involved, either through a civil suit brought by a prosecutor or through action by the Attorney General’s office.

Wilson had four months from the audit’s release to decide whether he would pursue further legal action against the named parties — Suver, former fiscal administrator Jean Chepp, the Making Life Better for Kids Committee and bonding company Ohio Farmers Insurance — or refer the case to an outside prosecutor.

“A special prosecutor from (the state auditor’s) office provides expertise in the subject matter, as well as alleviates any concern of a potential conflict of interest,” Wilson said in a letter sent to Auditor of State Dave Yost Monday.

Wilson said he also informed Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office of his decision. But DeWine’s office had already sent collections letters to Suver and Chepp as of Monday, their attorney Dan Harkins said.

“There is a marked inconsistency in the handling of this matter,” Harkins said. “It certainly makes the auditor of state, the attorney general and the prosecutor look foolish when no one seems to know who’s in charge.”

There has yet to be any due process for his clients, he said. “Where’s the opportunity for Bob and Jean to be heard?”

Suver and Chepp have denied any wrongdoing, saying the money was a campaign donation from Rocking Horse Center, a private health care organization in Springfield. It was routed through two “off-book” county bank accounts by mistake, Harkins has said previously, but was never public money.

But Clark County Administrator Nathan Kennedy, who alerted the auditor’s office to the donation last summer, said it appears the money was proceeds from a co-sponsored event between Rocking Horse the county DJFS, for which the county paid the health center $20,000 annually.

“If there is monies that need to be paid back to the county, obviously we’d want that money back,” Kennedy said.

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