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Sunday, December 28, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

He knows the material

IT'S HARD to imagine an oxymoron more heavily laden with irony than the one chronicled by reporter Joshua Boak in Monday's paper: Ray Kest teaching business ethics at a small college in Florida.

Who knows? The famed marauder Genghis Khan just might have ended up as an apostle of nonviolence. And bank robber Willie (That's where the money is) Sutton really did become a security adviser to financial institutions.

But there it was: Mr. Kest, the former taxpayer-abusing Lucas County treasurer and credit-burdened candidate for Toledo mayor, is now an assistant professor at International College in Naples, Fla., teaching courses in forensic accounting and financial management.

To say the least, the ex-Toledo politician has plenty of experience to rely on in molding impressionable young minds down South.

Considerable expertise in forensic accounting was needed, for example, by investigators looking into how Mr. Kest managed to slide nearly $17,000 in bills for his PhD studies at Cleveland State University past county fiscal officials in 2002 and 2003.

The state auditor later determined that the tuition reimbursement Mr. Kest claimed for himself amounted to "unallowable expenses" under Ohio law. He was forced to repay the money.

As for financial management, his unsuccessful candidacy for mayor in 2001, posing as a prudent steward of tax funds while owing $81,000 on 10 credit cards, will live forever in Toledo political lore.

So, too, will his claim that the credit fiasco was the fault of his soon-to-be ex-wife, as will his attempt to have his name legally changed to Ray Kest CPA to improve his ballot fortunes.

However, the part of Sunday's story that galls us - and should infuriate local taxpayers - is where Mr. Kest claimed his tuition scam wasn't criminal in nature. "There were no charges," he insisted. "It never happened. It doesn't exist. There's no record."

No? He must not recall the court transcript from Nov. 10, 2004, which lays out the agreement by which Mr. Kest dodged a felony theft charge by repaying $16,886 and resigning as county treasurer.

"Plea bargain" is one term that explains how Ray Kest avoided the possibility of a prison term. And "one step ahead of the sheriff" is pretty much how he departed Toledo for a new life in Florida.

Far be it from us to suggest that public miscreants never deserve a second chance to redeem themselves. Some do, some do not.

But Mr. Kest's continued misrepresentation of his record in Toledo indicates that he has not yet come to terms with, in the words of one of his current textbooks, the "deception, confidence, and trickery" that constitute a fraud upon the public.



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