ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ohio - A special state audit has confirmed the details of a 9 On Your Side I-Team investigation into embezzlement and mismanagement at the Village of Arlington Heights Mayor’s Court.
Mother and daughter clerks ripped off more than $260,000, the audit confirmed.
“The lack of internal controls in Arlington Heights created an environment ripe for theft,” Auditor of State Dave Yost said Thursday.
A 9 On Your Side I-Team investigation last year uncovered documents showing the mayor and other village officials knew about the thefts going back at least a decade but did nothing to investigate.
Former Court Clerk Donna Covert and her daughter, former Deputy Court Clerk Laura Jarvis, collected traffic fines, court costs and bonds and deposited them in their personal accounts, Yost said.
Auditors reviewed court receipts from July 1, 2007 through Feb. 19, 2010 and determined that $262,297 was never deposited into the court’s account.
Covert pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay $260,000 in restitution.
Jarvis’ attorney has been negotiating a plea deal. Her trial is scheduled for Sept. 16.
The special audit criticized Arlington Heights officials for not performing monthly bank reconciliations, not having the mayor or another employee review bank statements or receipts, and not maintaining accurate records.
But Yost didn't indicate the audit would lead to more criminal charges.
"There's plenty of blame to go around, anytime you've got a controls failure," Yost said. "Criminally responsible? I don't have the basis to point the finger at anybody. But what happened here was the lack of controls made it an environment that was easy to take advantage of."
Read the I-team reports:
July 9: 2012: Arlington Heights knew its employees were pocketing speeding fines: http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/i-team-arlington-heights-knew-its-employees-were-pocketing-speeding-fines
Sept. 26, 2012: Arlington Heights was warned by auditors 15 years ago : http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/i-team-arlington-heights-was-warned-by-auditors-nearly-15-years-ago