Mt. Sterling sells off assets to recoup cash

(Posted April 5, 2017)

By Amanda Ensinger, Staff Writer

The village of Mount Sterling is liquidating Joe Johnson’s assets. In March, the former village administrator was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay back nearly $800,000 he stole from the village while he worked there.

John Martin, the current administrator, updated village leaders on the liquidation process at the March 27 council meeting.

“We filed the deed for the house in Jackson (and) moved three vehicles into the village,” Martin said. “We are anticipating an offer from interested parties (on the house and) have offers on two of (the cars) pending.”

Martin said the remaining inventory is a little bit less than the village previously thought, however, they plan to transfer those items from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office to the village within the month.

The village will secure appraisals on the other items, then move forward with the sale of them.

“Pricing on the bigger items will be brought to council for your deliberation and guidance before any items are sold,” Martin said. “The intent is to sell the entire inventory to recover as much revenue as possible.”

During his four years as administrator, Johnson overpaid himself by more than $190,000 and used village credit cards to make down payments on vehicles, buy trips to Florida, and buy personal items like appliances, garage equipment, tools and electronics. He pled guilty to seven felonies, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft in office, money laundering and tampering with records.

“We will file a notice with the court indicating the amount recovered,” Martin said. “That amount will be credited to the restitution balance.”

Also on March 27, council discussed the new procedure for approving employee expenses and bills.

“We need a clear cut procedure in place that the finance committee must follow on an ongoing basis to run the village,” said Rebecca Burns, council member.

Council President Mary Lou Stiverson-Ratliff said the village has taken steps to prevent credit card misuse.

“We found out that the credit card was a big issue and have taken steps to correct that,” Stiverson-Ratliff said. “Right now, we don’t have one, but I think when we do have one again the council and the finance committee should review the bill each month.”

Council passed legislation requiring review of all credit card statements before payment is made.

Council also approved an ordinance to designate a downtown business district.

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