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Published: Wednesday, 8/27/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

Ex-Bettsville treasurer indicted on 3 felony counts

Sycamore man set for Sept. 11 arraignment

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TIFFIN — The former treasurer of Bettsville schools, the financially troubled district that recently merged with a neighboring school system, was indicted on a count of theft in office and two other counts related to his old post.

Roger Luhring, 48, of Sycamore, Ohio is to be arraigned Sept. 11 in Seneca County Common Pleas Court. He was indicted last week on two counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract and one count of theft in office. Both charges are fourth-degree felonies.

The district placed Mr. Luhring on administrative leave in October. He was soon reinstated but placed on leave again in February amid concerns by the Board of Education about his actions as treasurer.

Bettsville agreed to pay him roughly $26,000 upon his June 30 resignation instead of going through a termination process, which would have been more costly, said former school board president Michelle Davis. He had been employed with the district since 2008.

“We feel validated for our actions that we took,” she said. “I don’t think we’ll really feel [closure] until the trial is done.”

The tiny school district went into fiscal emergency earlier this year because of financial difficulties and dwindling enrollment. It agreed to merge with Old Fort Local Schools before the start of this school year, a consolidation that eliminated the Bettsville district and its board of education.

“His actions did not cause the situation that [the] Bettsville district was in financially, however, it didn’t help matters either,” Ms. Davis said.

Mr. Luhring referred questions to his attorney, Dean Henry of Tiffin, who could not be reached for comment.

In April, Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine requested the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation conduct an investigation, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The theft-in-office count stems from allegations that he was paid more than $1,000 for “unused” vacation days even though he took those days off to go on a cruise.

The indictment also states Mr. Luhring used his influence in 2011 and 2013 to secure a public contract in which his family had an interest. Officials did not elaborate on that allegation.

The penalty for each of the three counts is a sentence of six to 18 months and a fine up to $5,000.

Old Fort Superintendent Steve Anway, who took on superintendent duties at Bettsville after Mr. Luhring was placed on leave for the final time, said the district doesn’t expect to recover any money from the defendant.

“Anything we would get would be a bonus,” he said.

The newly enlarged Old Fort district started classes last week, with the Bettsville building used for kindergarten through sixth grades.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.



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