Hilliard Northwest News

Franklin County Agricultural Society

Former treasurer suspected of stealing from fair board

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A former treasurer of the Franklin County Agricultural Society is under investigation for stealing money from the organization, but society officials say he has started to pay back the money.

Society Secretary Tim Shade said former treasurer David Brobst, 53, of Groveport in January, through his attorney Phillip Templeton, made restitution of $75,000 to the society, whose members manage the Franklin County Fair and other events at the fairgrounds.

Shade described the restitution as a "good faith start toward returning the money taken from the society."

Shade said Brobst, who had served as the society's elected treasurer since 1999, resigned Dec. 12 during "a routine audit."

"(Brobst) came to us and said the auditor would find financial irregularities, and the audit did find those financial irregularities," Shade said.

Shade said the financial problems are contained to the years 2010, 2011 and 2012, but described the practices as "complex."

It appears money was removed and replaced from multiple accounts, Shade said, and it is yet unclear how much money was taken.

"We won't know until the audit is done, but through his attorney, (Brobst) has made some restitution," Shade said.

Larry Earman succeeded Brobst as treasurer of the society.

Earman, a certified public accountant, performed his own audit of the society's financials and reported those findings to the state auditor.

Earman said he reviewed the fair board's accounting records for 2010, 2011 and 2012 and "documented missing funds."

The Ohio Auditor's Office confirmed Tuesday, March 5 it is auditing the agricultural society.

Brittany Halpin, a spokeswoman for State Auditor David Yost, said the state auditor is responsible for auditing fair boards in Ohio at least every two years and sooner if warranted.

In this instance, the state auditor was performing its standard two-year audit, Halpin said.

Halpin would not comment on the nature of the audit, adding that it was "premature" to speak about the scope.

Halpin did not say when the audit might be completed, but that if any evidence of malfeasance is discovered, the case would be forwarded to the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office for consideration.

Templeton and Brobst could not be reached for comment.

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