Audit Finds Fraud, Illegal Spending At Southern Ohio Correctional Facility

Mar 21, 2017

The state auditor says officials at a southern Ohio correctional facility committed fraud and misused more than $20,000 in public funds. 

A special audit of the STAR Community Justice Center in Scioto County found 11 directors and employees indulged themselves with trips, expensive meals, booze and a visit to a Columbus strip club.

The state auditor's office found that between July 2011 and July 2015,  STAR officials spent more than $5,500 on airline tickets and registration for six employees to attend a conference in Reno, Nevada. While lodging in Columbus, the night before their flight, the employees spent $154 on beer and added a $50 tip. Both expenses are prohibited.

Other improper charges include thousands of dollars for taxis, travel costs for family members and excessive meal and lodging costs.

STAR's Deputy Director Josh Saunders topped the list of expenses with more than $12,000. The facility fired him two years ago for performance reasons. Saunders then sued, which led to an investigation and audit.

State Auditor Dave Yost says the charges show the employees used conferences as a cover for their self-indulgent vacations.