Ohio State Auditor places Village of Mount Sterling under fiscal emergency

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost said the Village of Mount Sterling has been placed under a state of fiscal emergency after two former city employees were charged with theft in office.

According to Yost, a fiscal analysis of the town determined deficit balances in village funds totaling $340,491 and $269,437 as of Dec. 31, 2016, and April 30, 2017.

“Mount Sterling is still reeling from a heavy financial blow inflicted by corrupt former officials and employees,” Yost said. “While the courts determine their fate, the village must move forward and rebuild. My office stands ready to help.”

In April, former mayor Charles Neff was indicted by a Madison County Grand Jury on two third-degree felonies of theft in office, a first-degree misdemeanor count of falsification and a second-degree misdemeanor count of dereliction of duty.

Bonnie Liff, administrative assistant and utilities clerk for the village, was also indicted on two third-degree felony counts of theft in office.

The indictments were related to the investigation that recently led to a 10-year prison sentence for former Mount Sterling Village Administrator Joseph A. Johnson, who pleaded guilty to felony theft and related crimes for misusing village credit cards to buy more than $724,000 of vehicles, auto parts, televisions and other items for his personal use between 2012 and 2016.

The village will now come under the oversight of a financial planning and supervision commission. Within 120 days of its first meeting, the village must develop a plan to eliminate the fiscal emergency conditions. The Auditor of State serves as the financial supervisor to the commission.

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