More than $17,000 was missing from a Worthington Schools soft-drink vending machine, with alleged thefts of the revenue spanning six years, according to a report released by Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber this week.

The machine at Linworth Alternative School, 2075 W. Dublin-Granville Road in Columbus, should have operated on a net-zero margin, but from 2013 to 2019, cash disbursements from the machine exceeded the receipts deposited, the report said.

Specifically, 52 cash payments to vendors totaled about $25,000 and 24 cash deposits totaled about $8,000, leaving about $17,000 unaccounted for, the report said.

An administrative secretary responsible for collecting and depositing the money from the self-fill machine resigned July 1, 2019, after the district treasurer’s office became aware of the issue in May, according to the state auditor’s report.

“We are committed to providing a transparent accounting of the resources our community has entrusted with us,” said Vicki Gnezda, communications director for Worthington Schools. “The financial-services department uncovered the discrepancy and dealt with it.”

The secretary’s resignation letter said she resigned for “personal reasons.” She referred a reporter to her attorney, who said she is cooperating with investigators.

The secretary had worked for the district since 2013. Her annual salary was about $41,000, according to her personnel file.

The Columbus Dispatch and ThisWeek Community News are not naming the woman because no criminal charges have been filed thus far.

The Worthington Division of Police continues to investigate the matter, records specialist Kimberly Santuomo said Jan. 8.

A report dated June 13, 2019, provided by Santuomo said only that “money was stolen from the business” and listed the address for the school district’s offices.

The Worthington district has discontinued the self-fill soft-drink machine program “to eliminate the potential internal control weakness,” Faber’s report said.

According to Ohio law, public officials who authorize illegal expenditures of public funds or supervise the accounts from which illegal expenditures are made, or from which funds are lost are stolen, are liable for losses.

The district used its insurance coverage under the Ohio School Plan to recover the missing money. It received a check for about $16,000 after paying a $1,000 deductible to the Toledo-based insurer.

ThisWeek staff writer Olivia Minnier contributed to this story.

awidmanneese@dispatch.com

@AlissaWidman