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Published: Thursday, 8/12/2004

City worker suspended in theft case

A city of Toledo employee charged with stealing more than $10,000 worth of pool chemicals and equipment was suspended without pay after an administrative hearing yesterday.

Chief of Staff Jay Black said Lee Youster, who was charged Tuesday with theft in office, will remain suspended until a criminal investigation is complete.

Mr. Youster, a supervisor of city pool managers, had keys and access to equipment and chemicals stored at the pools.

The city is asking its departments to check for signs of more thefts by employees but does not suspect any, Mr. Black said.

"We think this is an isolated incident now," Mr. Black said.

City departments will take inventory of three years' worth of equipment and supplies and compare them with records to look for trends that might indicate more thefts, such as supplies that were ordered but not used or put in storage. Mr. Black said he'd ask a local accounting firm to help test the findings.

"We will not tolerate theft within our city departments," he said.

Mr. Black said he would ask for the audit to be done within a week, and some departments would have more intensive searches than others because they order more equipment.

He said the city has recovered 96 containers of chlorine worth about $8,900, six new pool pumps worth about $3,600, and a used weed cutter.

The manager of the private warehouse where the goods were found, John Scott Yoder, was charged with receiving stolen property.

Police Chief Michael Navarre said officers are conducting more interviews and could not comment further on the criminal investigation. Mr. Black said he could not comment on any prior criminal charges against Mr. Youster and was not aware of any prior departmental charges. "The criminal prosecution process will now run its course," he said.

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