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Published: Tuesday, 7/8/2014

Perrysburg superintendent says employees were 'stunned' when co-worker charged

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Superintendent Tom Hosler Superintendent Tom Hosler
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Perrysburg Schools employees were “stunned” last week when Eric Whitson was arrested in the school district‘s ‍Commodore Building offices on Wednesday for two counts of theft.

Mr. Whitson had worked in the district for 10 years for the treasurer‘‍s office in accounts receivable. The Wood County Prosecutor‘‍s Office has accused Mr. Whitson of writing two school district checks, totaling $80,000, that were sent to the Bowling Green Athletics Boosters in February. Mr. Whitson was treasurer of the boosters club and the checks, the prosecutor alleges, replenished what he took from that organization.

“I think many people here were stunned,” Superintendent Tom Hosler said.

Eric Whitson. Eric Whitson.
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Investigators were at the Commodore Building on Monday to continue their investigation. Paul Dobson, Wood County prosecutor, said the athletic boosters were the ones who recently notified his office of the issue. Mr. Hosler said he couldn’‍t comment with the investigation ongoing, including a question about why the district didn‘‍t detect the two checks.

The superintendent said that, after the investigation is over and when the district learns more about what happened, school officials will review whether any check-writing procedures or other practices need to be changed.

While Mr. Hosler cannot comment on the investigation, he said he is concerned about more than the $80,000 from the district is missing.

“We are concerned with the potential of other discoveries,” he said. “We don’‍t know what we don‘‍t know. He certainly was in a critical position with the district.”

Mr. Whitson, 30, of Bowling Green, is still being paid while on suspension because he is a Ohio Association of Public School Employees union member. If he is terminated, it could happen before the investigation finishes, Mr. Hosler said. The employee makes $37,425 a year in the treasurer’s office handling accounts receivable and student activities accounts for the district.

“We have many safeguards in place and have had good audits, but it is hard to account for the human factor,” Mr. Hosler said.  “We are anxious to see the prosecutor’‍s findings.”

Mr. Whitson is charged with two fourth-degree felonies, and each has a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. He is expected to appear for a preliminary hearing soon at Perrysburg Municipal Court. His bail was set at $80,000, and he posted the 10 percent bond required and was released from jail.

Conditions of Mr. Whitson’s bond include that he is not allowed to have contact with Perrysburg Schools employees or Bowling Green Athletic Boosters. He is not allowed on school grounds and he may not leave Wood County, the judge ordered.

For short term, the district is covering his absence with the current staff.

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

 



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