COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – The Ohio Auditor’s Office said Thursday an audit of Welcome Stadium receipts showed more than $16,000 is missing from events held at the Dayton Public Schools venue.

Auditor of State Keith Faber’s Office released the 2020 financial audit of the DPS district. The audit included a $16,657 finding for recovery against the former Welcome Stadium secretary and ticket manager.

“Unfortunately, we uncover theft in athletic ticket sales far too often,” said Auditor Faber. “It is imperative that our schools have strong checks and balances in place to avoid these abuses and thefts including two-person verification for cash receipts. This finding makes it clear that responsible employees will be held accountable for safeguarding student and district funds.”

Welcome Stadium, owned by DPS, hosts various athletic events. According to the Auditor’s Office, during fiscal years 2015 and 2016, six events held at the Stadium did not have corresponding deposits in the School District’s bank account. Supporting documentation maintained for these six events included a Roll Ticket report, Summary of Deposit report and copy of a deposit slip. These documents reflected receipts collected totaling $16,247. In addition, there was one event where only a portion of the receipts collected were deposited for an unaccounted for amount of $410.

The Auditor’s Office said Julie Vestal was employed by DPS as a secretary at Welcome Stadium and served as ticket manager for events held during the period of review from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016. At the end of an event, Vestal would reconcile all cash receipts collected to the Roll Ticket Reports, create a Summary of Deposit report, and prepare a bank deposit slip. The reports, cash and copy of the deposit slip prepared by Vestal were then placed in a School District money bag and secured with a zip tie. The bag was then placed in an unlocked filing cabinet drawer in the Welcome Stadium office, along with copies of the supporting reports, before being posted to the accounting system and delivered to the bank.

A finding for recovery for public money collected but unaccounted for was issued against Julie Vestal in the amount of $16,657 in favor of the School District’s Welcome Stadium fund. Former School District Athletic Director, Jonas Smith, was responsible for the oversight of all cash collections at the Stadium during the period and will be jointly liable for the missing funds.

The incident was investigated by the Auditor’s Special Investigations Unit through a special audit. Special audits are generally initiated to investigate allegations of fraud, theft, or misappropriation of public funds, or to quantify the extent of such alleged fraud, theft, or misappropriation of public funds. The Welcome Stadium issue was classified as a special audit by the Auditor of State’s office to be conducted as an expansion of the financial audit, rather than a special audit report based on the AOS assessment of the allegation.