Former York Township Official Charged in Belmont County

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Former York Township Fiscal Officer Dawn Lee, left, and her mother, Irma Shreffler, appear Monday for arraignment in Belmont County Common Pleas Court.

Dawn Lee, former fiscal officer for both York Township and the York Water Authority, was in court Monday, as she stands accused of stealing nearly $100,000 of taxpayers’ money with the help of others, including her mother.

Lee, 47, and mother Irma Shreffler, 69, both of Powhatan Point, were arraigned and pleaded innocent to crimes related to theft in office.

Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra said Lee is charged with 27 different crimes. If convicted, she faces a maximum of 52 years in prison. Her pre-trial was set for April 16, with plea agreement hearing April 30 and trial May 8. Her bond was set at $250,000.

Shreffler is charged with two counts of receiving stolen property for receiving payment from Lee for work that she did not perform at the township, a felony of the fifth degree. Her pre-trial was set for April 16, with plea agreement May 14 and trial May 22. Her bond was set at $100,000.

Stephanie Anderson, special assistant prosecutor with the Ohio State Auditor’s office, said Lee is suspected of taking $98,000 from both entities and requested the high bond due to the large amount of money Lee is suspected of taking and the high level of felonies.

“We do believe the flight risk is greater,” Anderson said.

Belmont County Public Defender Frank Pierce asked Vavra to consider Lee’s lifelong residency in the area and her health issues when imposing a bond.

According to the state office, the charges arose from accusations of misuse of township credit cards, overpayment of wages, miscellaneous reimbursements, failing to file income tax returns, and failure by Lee to remit income taxes she collected from the township and water authority employees.

Anderson said Lee is charged with 15 counts of theft in office, one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two counts of theft, seven counts of failure to remit income taxes or withholding taxes for the employees, township and water authority to the state, one count of tampering with records, a felony of the third degree; and one count of failing to file her own personal income taxes, a felony of the third degree.

“At this point, we feel pretty confident that there was approximately $90,000 from the township and approximately $8,000 from the water authority,” Anderson said. “The Public Integrity Assurance Team from the Auditor of State’s office led the special audit and investigation into the matter.”

Shreffler and another person whose name is being held under a secret indictment, were indicted for collecting payments they were not entitled to receive and for income tax-related charges. The third person was indicted for accepting payments from Lee for work not performed for the township and overpayment from the water authority that this individual was not entitled to receive.

“We knew the investigation was ongoing. We’ve been waiting for a year to have something happen,” York Township Trustee Don Graham said, adding that the present township trustees and clerk were not notified of the progression of the case by any prosecuting agencies.

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