Annette M. Stewart, 56, now living in West Palm Beach, Fla., was indicted by the Jefferson County grand jury earlier this week on charges of theft in office, tampering with records, falsification and having an unlawful interest in a public contract from April 14, 2017, through August 23, 2019. All are felonies.
STEUBENVILLE — A former Jefferson County health department administrator gave herself a hefty pay raise, doctored records and hired her son, all without the board’s knowledge, according to an indictment filed with the clerk’s office Thursday.
Additionally, the four-count indictment alleges Stewart, with purpose to defraud or knowing she was facilitating a fraud, altered the minutes of the Board of Health’s April 25, 2017, meeting and that she lied to investigators — specifically, claiming she “did knowingly make a false statement or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, when the statement was made with purpose to commit or facilitate the commission of a theft offense…”
According to the indictment, Stewart “falsified records to increase her salary, without the knowledge or approval” of the health board. Over the course of two years, she overpaid herself $63,107, investigators said.
Two years ago, the health board had asked the state auditor’s office to conduct a forensic audit covering the previous two years amid concerns over internal spending practices. At the time, board member Terry Bell said members were concerned that administrators didn’t have the answers to questions concerning spending, which included contracts that weren’t signed and bills being paid without the health board’s approval.
The indictment also alleges Stewart used her position as an administrator to put her son on the department’s payroll in October 2017.
A statement released by the board in 2019 referenced “concerns about the lack of internal controls and systematic processes in the structure of purchase.”
“This, combined with the lack of past transparency and visibility to the board on contracts and other critical matters involved in the operations and management of the department, has led us to the decision to seek an independent, outside audit of these issues,” the board said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the case was investigated by the auditor’s office and will be prosecuted in Jefferson County by the Special Prosecutions Section of the Attorney General’s Office.
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