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Guyan Township unknowingly paid cell phone bills for former trustee’s wife
Columbus – A former Guyan Township (Gallia County) trustee duped the township into paying his wife’s cell phone bills, according to an audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
The township spent $4,689 on 21 cell phone payments for former Trustee Roger Watson during 2014 and 2015. Watson photographed roads and projects with the cell phone to help the township secure financial assistance from outside agencies.
For each cell phone payment, Watson provided the township with the first two pages of the bill from Verizon, which include the total plan charges but no further details. Auditors obtained the complete phone bills and discovered three-fourths of the amount paid by the township was for two additional phone lines, one of which was used by Watson’s wife, Cindy Hager. All three lines on the account were in Hager’s name.
“Under no circumstances should taxpayers foot the cell phone bill for an elected official’s family members,” Auditor Yost said. “I’m glad to see the township has taken preventive measures to guard against future losses.”
A $311 finding for recovery was issued against Watson for excess reimbursements he received from the township for making the first two cell phone payments. A $3,193 finding for recovery was issued against Hager for the remaining 19 excess payments the township made directly to Verizon.
Watson repaid his $311 finding in addition to $2,205 he was secondarily liable for on Dec. 15, 2016. Hager is primarily liable for the remaining $988, with the following officials secondarily liable in the amounts below:
- Fiscal Officer Debra O’Dell: $988
- Trustee Paul Rossiter: $988
- Trustee Terry O’Dell: $660
- Trustee Cody Boothe: $328
A response to the audit findings indicated the township no longer uses cell phones for official purposes.
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.