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Published: Thursday, 4/10/2008

$60,000 is stolen from Wood County Airport, police say

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Police are investigating the theft of $60,000 from the Wood County Airport.

A Bowling Green State University student who had been employed by the airport is suspected of taking the funds, police said, and he is cooperating with the investigation.

No charges have been filed.

Lt. Tony Hetrick said the case came to the police department's attention during a recent audit of the Wood County Regional Airport Authority during which the state discovered irregular transfers of about $60,000 made between May, 2007, and March.

Emily Frazee, a spokesman for the state auditor's office, said the audit is in progress and she could not discuss details of its findings.

She declined to comment specifically on the case, but said the auditor's office does, at times, notify authorities when irregularities are found.

"We do our best always to make sure any red flags are addressed during the course of the audit," Ms. Frazee said.

Mike Solley, president of the airport authority, said the board turned over the matter to police when the airport authority was notified by state auditors.

"During the last audit, there were some unusual transactions that were flagged by the auditor. That's when it came to light," he said. "I don't want to elaborate because it still is very much in the investigatory stage."

Lieutenant Hetrick said police had concluded their inquiry and planned to turn the findings over to the Wood County Prosecutor's Office for possible charges.

Mr. Solley said the small airport on East Poe Road routinely employs BGSU students enrolled in aviation studies.

"We operate on a trust scenario," he said. "We employ a lot of the student aviators. It's very much a trust position."

Declining to be more specific, he said the board planned to make changes in the way funds are handled at the airport. He added that despite the setback, the general aviation airport is open for business.

"We are alive and well, and we'll continue to be alive and well," Mr. Solley said.



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