Security protocols have been updated at the Westerville Public Library in the wake of an investigation into theft by a former employee, according to library director Don Barlow.

Security protocols have been updated at the Westerville Public Library in the wake of an investigation into theft by a former employee, according to library director Don Barlow.

That employee, Troy D. Cockrell, 52, of Cleveland Avenue in Westerville, was arrested in October 2014 on charges of embezzling funds. He pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of theft in office.

Last week, Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Serrott placed Cockrell on probation and ordered him to pay the library more than $40,000 in restitution.

At the time of his arrest, officials estimated Cockrell had taken more than $20,000. Serrott said during sentencing he believed Cockrell stole more than could be proven.

In a report released Oct. 6 by the state auditor's office, Auditor Dave Yost was critical of security measures at the Westerville Public Library that allowed Cockrell to embezzle an estimated $26,000.

Funds were not deposited properly to library accounts between 2011 and 2014, according to the auditor's office.

"Weak internal controls leave tax dollars vulnerable," Yost said in the report. "When there are sticky fingers and a lack of oversight, the taxpayers lose."

Barlow essentially agreed.

"I can't disagree with that thought," he said. "The reason (Cockrell) was able to do that was the other two people in that department not doing the double-check as they were supposed to.

"Our policy always been trust but verify," Barlow said.

"Somewhere along that line, the other two people decided they trusted Cockrell, and that was misplaced trust," he said.

"Sometime during the end of 2011, they stopped following proper procedures. So obviously, we've evaluated that and re-strengthened those procedures."

Barlow said the two other employees are no longer with the library, but were not charged with a crime.

Because of his title as the library's deputy fiscal officer, Cockrell was covered by a $100,000 bond, which means that Westerville taxpayer money will not be used to repay the theft amount. But Barlow said the restitution payments should allow them to skip that step.

"It doesn't really even have to be turned over to the bonding company," he said.

Westerville police confiscated more than $39,000 in cash from Cockrell's Westerville apartment. A photo taken by police shows stacks of currency, neatly wrapped in paper bands.

Serrott speculated that Cockrell is "just a hoarder of money. I don't know, because it's odd."

In addition to improved security measures, backups are now in place at the library, Barlow said.

"We took that as an opportunity to re-evaluate everything we do there and strengthen the process," he said of the investigation into Cockrell's activities.

"We worked with the auditing department ... and added software that helps us and received full restitution, including the time it took to follow up with Cockrell's theft."

Before he was sentenced, Cockrell apologized "to the court and to the library" for his actions.

Serrott said he ordered probation because Cockrell had no criminal record, has suffered public shame and is considered a low risk for being a repeat offender. If he violates his probation, he could be sent to prison for two years.

Columbus Dispatch reporter John Futty contributed to this report.