WILMINGTON — A former Clarksville administrator was found guilty of tampering with records, a fifth-degree felony, and will be sentenced later this year for illegally reducing village residents’ water, sewer and sanitation bills.
Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck found Edward Friend, 51, of Clarksville, guilty of tampering with records after a bench trial Monday. According to an indictment and a bill of particulars, Friend altered or falsified water bills for many village residents, totaling $23,605 in illegal deals.
Clinton County assistant prosecutor Matt Suellentrop said Friend tampered with the records by having control over the billing software as village administrator. He entered “adjustments,” Suellentrop said, to customers’ utility accounts without a valid reason and without supporting documentation.
Friend’s bond was continued, according to court documents, and a sentencing hearing is set for April 11 at 10 a.m.
According to Suellentrop, a fifth-degree felony carries a maximum possible prison sentence of one year. Friend is eligible for community control sanctions, according to Suellentrop.
In a press release last year, Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost attributed the corruption to weak financial controls and said some of those deals benefited family and friends.
Three of those include a former village fiscal officer, according to Yost’s press release, and two former mayors, court documents show. Suellentrop said testimony at court revealed that individual residents didn’t request the adjustments nor know what Friend was doing until afterwards.
Yost’s initial press release said neither village council nor its water committee approved the changes; only Friend reviewed them.
The village contracts with Western Water Company for water.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.