The Canal Winchester Times

Prosecutor mulls charges against former fair officer


David Brobst's lawyer said last week a "moment of weakness" caused by a cash-flow problem on his family's farm led his client to "loan" himself $211,755 between 2010 and 2012 from the Franklin County Agricultural Society while he served as its treasurer.

Fines and other bank fees added $8,301, leading Ohio Auditor Dave Yost to issue a finding for recovery for $220,056.

Attorney Larry James said Brobst intended to repay the money.

An audit released April 8 indicates that he has done so -- he made the final repayment to the society last month -- but Yost said Brobst "stole" the money nevertheless.

The matter is now in the hands of Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, who said in an email last week that his office would use the audit and a sheriff's investigation of Brobst "to determine the appropriate theft charge."

Brobst resigned as agricultural society treasurer in December 2012 while the organization was in the midst of its regular audit. James said his client told Tim Shade, secretary-manager of the society -- which oversees the Franklin County Fair -- that the audit would uncover irregularities.

Shade said the society reported the theft to authorities, which led to Yost's audit. The list of "misappropriated assets" in the audit includes:

* $61,068 in undeposited collections or money collected but unaccounted for.

* $5,698 worth of checks written to Brobst.

* $30,966 in web transfers to Brobst's farm.

* $114,023 in web transfers to the John Deere company.

Shade said Brobst, a 54-year-old farmer who lives in Groveport, did not use the money to buy a John Deere tractor.

"To my knowledge, he never had a John Deere on his farm," Shade said. "He had an old Allis-Chalmers. Everything is old and stuff that was bought at auction."

James said the funds Brobst electronically transferred to a John Deere Web-pay account bought feed and other items for his farm but not a tractor.

"He was trying to take out a quick loan. He had every intention of taking it back," James said.

Last spring, it was revealed that Brobst had also taken $20,000 over five years from the Groveport Lions Club while he was the club's treasurer. He also has repaid that money. He was not charged in that matter.

Asked how Brobst could afford to repay the loan, James said, "He has a good family."