COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Auditor’s Office hit a milestone on Thursday: 100 convictions for fraud and corruption since 2019, and $18.3 million dollars issued in findings for recovery in the past four years.
“It’s as simple as somebody going and using their government credit card to take cash out at the casino,” State Auditor Keith Faber (R-Ohio) said.
Faber said, while their units are effectively catching and convicting fraud, they can do more and it starts with accountability and resources. He said, at any given time, his Special Investigations Unit has as many as 140 open cases. So, Faber is asking for funding from the state’s budget for additional power on the SUI.
“We firmly believe that by dedicating additional resources and by strengthening the law, we can target the areas under our control with better enforcement and better activities,” Faber said.
Plus, he is backing a new bill that State Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) is carrying. The bill would require every public employee to be trained on how to detect fraud, Faber suggested something like once when they begin and thereafter every two years. It would also require every public employee, both elected and non-elected, to report instances of suspected fraud.
“It is going to be a major step forward, not only in catching criminals but also giving good employees a relief valve,” Schaffer said. “A venue in which to report suspected fraud as well as whistleblower protection.”
Faber said whether there’s a penalty for not reporting fraud will be a legislative debate, but he believes there needs to be a consequence.
“Someone who inadvertently forgets to report something, that’s different than someone who sits on their hands because an election is coming up or because they think they can make it ‘not so bad’ internally,” Faber said. “It’s as simple as ‘see something, say something,’ and then let our training investigators take the lead”
Schaffer said the bill is still in draft stages but is hoping it moves through the statehouse quickly.
“We need to get this legislation passed and signed by the governor and get it in action,” Schaffer said.