Yost: Pike County visitor's bureau failed to account for over $85K in spending

Posted at 10:12 PM, Jan 03, 2019

The office of Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost found undocumented spending totaling over $85,000 in the financial records — and lack thereof — of the Pike County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

A report released Thursday indicates Yost’s audit also uncovered an array of other mismanagement, including poorly recorded meetings — minutes were kept for just 11 between 2013 and 2016 — missing employee timesheets, a former board member retaining spending power and questionable expenditures for costs such as concerts, food and hotels.

Many of the purchases were linked to executive director Sharon Manson, who at one point claimed $22,602 as reimbursements for business expenses but did not provide receipts to show they were justified.

The audit discovered an additional $62,788 in bureau purchases for which Manson was responsible and which it could not confirm were made “for proper public purpose.” Yost issued findings for recovery for the entire sum.

Manson has 120 days to return that $85,309 to the bureau’s finances or face legal consequences, according to the Ohio State Auditor’s website.

The auditor’s office issued two more findings for recovery involving a pair of trustees. Julia Dixon, who signed 41 questionable checks, was asked to pay back $13,334 to the bureau’s operating fund.

Juli Manning, a former trustee who signed 10, was asked to pay back $1,786.

Yost also continues to investigate the office of Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, whom an anonymous complainant accused of stealing confiscated money to gamble and threatening those around him.

Reader for two years oversaw an investigation into the Rhoden family murders, which claimed the lives of eight related victims in a single night.

The investigation drained up to $600,000 from the county’s thin finances, County Commissioner Tony Montgomery said in November. The upcoming trials of the six suspects could thrust it into a full-blown financial emergency.