MIAMI COUNTY — On Tuesday, the former treasurer of the Ludlow Falls Volunteer Fire Department entered a plea of no contest and was found guilty by the court for felony theft in office charges in Miami County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Stacy Wall found Robert Smith Jr., 67, of Ludlow Falls, guilty of theft in office and set sentencing for April 13.
The alleged total loss of funds, estimated by the Detective Division of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, is approximately $192,236.
According to Miami County Assistant Prosecutor Janna Parker, a joint plea agreement was reached for Smith to be placed on community control. A third-degree felony theft of office carries a prison sentence of 9-36 months in prison and a fine of $10,000. There has been a request for restitution by the fire department.
Other special conditions of the charge include a life-time ban from holding a public office or position of trust. Since the department was volunteer, Smith did not have a state pension.
On Oct. 26, 2019, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation of Smith’s alleged misconduct regarding the Ludlow Falls Volunteer Fire Department’s funds. It was noted Smith has been the fire department’s secretary of treasure for 30 years.
According to the sheriff’s reports, a Ludlow Falls Fire Department officer was contacted by the department’s bank regarding suspicious activity regarding its checking account. A search warrant was obtained and Smith was interviewed by detectives on Oct. 29. His home and vehicle were also searched due to the department’s financial records at Smith’s home.
Upon review of the bank statements, large amounts of ATM withdrawals, money transfers and debit card purchases were being made in the city of Middletown and Dayton area. Alleged purchases included restaurants, tattoo parlors, retail and jewelry stores and money orders. The department’s savings account of $12,000 and certificate of deposit worth $30,000 had also been closed and cashed out.
Judge Stacy Wall ordered Smith to submit fingerprints to the court.
• Former local attorney Joshua Albright appeared in Miami County Common Pleas Court for a community control violation.
In May 2016, Albright was found guilty on one count of theft, a felony of the fifth-degree. Albright failed to turn over approximately $60,000 worth of contracts to his law firm, Roberts, Kelly and Bucio. According to court documents from Oct. 1, 2013, to about Sept. 11, 2014, Albright was paid for his services by his clients and never turned the funds over to the firm. Albright was ordered to repay the firm $60,560 in restitution, but Albright’s counsel Ben Eberly said the law firm dissolved in July 2016. According to court records, Albright currently owes $60,713.
Parker said the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office learned of the violation on Monday and had no time to research the issue. Both parties agreed to set a briefing schedule.
Albright served a 90-day jail sentence and was placed on five years community control, which ends May 30, 2021.