Village of Bellaire law enforcement trust fund owed over $23,000

Belmont County

Columbus – Auditor of State Keith Faber’s Office released the 2019 audit of the Village of Bellaire in Belmont County. The report included a finding for recovery totaling more than $23,000 in favor of the Village’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund.

The Auditor’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) noted undercover drug buys and other miscellaneous law enforcements expenditures either did not have supporting documentation to substantiate the purchase or did not have sufficient documentation to support the purpose or amount of the expenditure.

The Village’s Police Department conducts undercover drug buys utilizing the Village’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF) monies as part of working assigned cases.

Village police officers are responsible for maintaining a log of the LETF monies received and spent on individual undercover drug buys as well as a written summary detailing the drug buy and maintaining an Evidence Submission Sheet and Laboratory Report for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office as proof that undercover drugs were purchased and submitted for analysis.

However, the Village did not have a formal policy documenting the requirements for undercover drug buys.

Prior to becoming the Village’s current Police Chief, Richard Flanagan was a Lieutenant in the Police Department and was responsible for completing undercover drug buys by utilizing the Village’s LETF monies. During the period July 2006 through December 2013, the Village issued checks payable to Chief Flanagan, who then cashed the checks to use for various undercover drug buys and other miscellaneous law enforcement expenditures. Similarly, Michael Wheeler was a Patrolman in the Police Department and was also completing undercover drug buys with the Village’s LETF monies. From December 2013 through June 2015, Patrolman Wheeler used Village LETF monies for various undercover drug buys and other miscellaneous law enforcement expenditures. Both were responsible for expenditures that did not have adequate documentation.

Police Chief Flanagan had 162 unsupported expenditures, while former Patrolman Wheeler had 49, totaling $15,603 and $7,835, respectively.

A finding for recovery was issued against Richard Flanagan in the amount of $15,603 and Michael Wheeler in the amount of $7,835, both in favor of the Village’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund.

A full copy of this report is available online.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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