Columbus – An Ohio Auditor of State investigation led to the arrest of former Bellaire Water Clerk Lisa Flaherty earlier today in Broome County, New York. Investigators and law enforcement authorities have been searching for Flaherty since she fled Bellaire in April.
“When missing taxpayer dollars are at stake, we’ll go where we need to go to recover them,” Auditor Yost said. “My office, law enforcement and the county prosecutor worked together to capture this fleeing suspect.”
The Auditor of State’s Athens Regional Office was first contacted on April 6, 2012 with information on suspected theft of utility payments. The following day, water utility information on the village’s computer system disappeared, and the then-Village Water Clerk Lisa Flaherty failed to report to work.
The Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit gathered information and began working with Belmont County Prosecutor Christopher Berhalter and Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk to conduct a formal investigation on the allegations. The investigation found that Flaherty fled to the Binghamton, New York area. On Wednesday, May 23, Mr. Berhalter partnered with the Bellaire Police Department to issue a warrant for Flaherty’s arrest. The arrest warrant was issued for three charges: 1) a third degree felony of tampering with evidence; 2) a third degree felony of theft in office; and 3) a forth degree felony of tampering with records.
The Auditor of State’s office today sent two officers from the Special Investigations Unit to Binghamton, New York and worked with the local law enforcement to apprehend Flaherty. She is currently incarcerated in Broome County, New York and will be extradited back to Belmont County for prosecution.
The Auditor of State’s office recently launched a special audit of the village’s water department to determine the total amount of dollars missing from Bellaire’s coffers.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 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.