(Posted April 26, 2017)
By Amanda Ensinger, Staff Writer
Mount Sterling village council has fired Bonnie Liff, a long-time employee, in the wake of the Joe Johnson scandal.
Council members started their April 24 meeting with an executive session during which they discussed the termination of Liff, the village’s administrative assistant and utilities clerk.
Earlier this month, Liff was indicted on two third-degree felony counts of theft in office. Liff is accused of cashing in more vacation time than she had earned and cashing in more sick time than is permitted under village rules.
When Liff was indicted, so was former Mount Sterling mayor, Charles Neff. Neff was indicted on two third-degree felony counts of theft in office, a first-degree misdemeanor count of falsification, and a second-degree misdemeanor count for dereliction of duty.
After the executive session, council unanimously approved the termination of Liff, a 27-year employee of the village.
The indictments of Liff and Neff are related to the investigation that recently led to a 10-year prison sentence for former Mount Sterling village administrator, Joseph A. Johnson, who pleaded guilty to felony theft and related crimes for misusing village credit cards to buy more than $724,000 of vehicles, auto parts, televisions and other items for his personal use
The village is trying to recoup some of these funds by selling Johnson’s assets, including cars, a home, tools and other items.
“In reality, we will probably only get back $300,000 to $325,000,” said John Martin, current village administrator. “He will also be forced to pay restitution, but he will never be able to pay all of this back.”
Council approved the sale of Johnson’s home in Jackson County and hired a real estate agent to execute the sale. The sale price is $149,000; a 6 percent commission will go to the real estate agent.
Martin also gave an update on the seized items to be auctioned off.
“We received the final court order on the last few items of seized property,” he said. “We will be seeking assistance from an auctioneer who might offer his services at no cost to the village.”
All of Johnson’s seized items are in a secured storage area for which Martin has the only key.
Mayor Lowell Anderson did have some good news to share with residents. The amount of taxes the village is collecting has steadily increasing since last year.
“Year to date, we have collected $244,000 in taxes,” Anderson said. “Last year at this time, we had collected $192,225 in taxes.”
The next regular meeting of Mount Sterling council is May 8.