(Posted May 16, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Nicholas Szabo, former London city auditor, pleaded guilty May 9 to theft in office.
Szabo resigned from office in December 2017 when confronted with evidence that he failed to reimburse the city for his health insurance costs and arranged an unauthorized pay raise for a fellow employee.
Szabo pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree felony before Judge Eamon Costello in Madison County Common Pleas Court. Sentencing is scheduled for June 7.
“As soon as this issue came to the attention of city officials, we acted swiftly,” said Patrick Closser in a May 9 statement. “Without hesitation, we contacted the State Auditor’s Office with our findings and let these professionals do their investigation.”
Investigators from State Auditor Dave Yost’s office found that Szabo arranged for the city to pay all of his health insurance costs. Shortly after he took office as city auditor in January 2016, Szabo provided a payroll clerk with an outdated city ordinance requiring the city to pay all of his health insurance costs. However, city council had approved a newer ordinance voiding the benefit. According to Yost’s office, Szabo was aware of the new ordinance because he handled insurance matters as deputy city auditor.
Szabo also gave an unauthorized pay raise to Debbie Elliott, a former clerk in his office, in May 2016. The city law director caught the raise, which was later voided. Szabo also tried but failed to secure a raise for Elliott during collective bargaining. In December 2016, he signed a memorandum of understanding, giving Elliott a pay raise of 4 percent, though he did not have the authorization to do so.
“We would like to thank the efforts of Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, Special Prosecutor Bob Smith, their office and staff,” Closser stated. “We would like to express our gratitude for them acting swiftly to protect the interests of our community. The combined work of many has guaranteed the full recovery and return of all public monies to the city of London.”
He continued, “The city administration continues to work with our revamped staff at the London Auditor’s Office to ensure prosperity through integrity for the city of London.”