An investigation started by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department ended when a former Canal Winchester employee passed away in September.
Steve Martin, the deputy chief in charge of investigations for the sheriff’s office, said Canal Winchester Mayor Jeff Miller called him earlier this year and requested the sheriff’s department investigate theft allegations involving village accounts and former employee Jennifer Caswell. Miller said the village turned everything related to the case over to investigators.
"We were asked by the mayor and started an initial investigation," reported Martin. "We started getting information on, I believe, four different accounts, but the case is now closed as far as we’re concerned (due to Caswell’s death)."
Caswell was employed by the village as community affairs director and was a member of the Labor Day Festival Committee, but left her job earlier this year. Following a June 4 Canal Winchester Village Council meeting, before council went into executive session to discuss legal issues including personnel matters, Miller confirmed Caswell was no longer a village employee. At the time, he declined to comment on the situation other than verifying her job status, citing it as a personnel issue.
Caswell passed away Sept. 6 at her place of residence. She was a 1993 graduate of Canal Winchester High School and left behind three children.
In an unrelated matter, on Oct. 1, council adopted an ordinance authorizing Miller to enact a separation agreement with Canal Winchester Clerk of Courts Lori Nelson, citing it was in the best interest of the village to enter into the agreement upon her resignation of employment.
In exchange for her resignation, the village agreed to pay Nelson $9,164, which included almost 25 hours in comp time, five weeks of separation pay, vacation and sick leave payout, and $1,957 in attorney’s fees. In the document Nelson agreed to respond in good faith to any requests for information or input to facilitate the transition of the Mayor’s Court Clerk’s Office to new staffing.
Nelson will continue to receive health insurance benefits through the end of December, contingent upon her attending regular counseling, but she will not accrue any other benefits. She also agreed to not file any charges or complaints against the village and released the village from any actions, suits, or charges, which the village did likewise.
Each party agreed not to make disparaging, negative, or defamatory comments about each other. Regarding Nelson’s employment relationship with the village, it was agreed only to reveal her dates of employment and a general description of her job duties, which included preparation of warrants, maintenance of court dockets, receipt of fines and court costs, and preparation of city, state and Supreme Court reports.