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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Ex-airport aide admits theft of $68,000

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN The former assistant manager of the Wood County Regional Airport yesterday admitted that he stole more than $68,000 from the airport.

Preston Morrison, 22, of Rawson, Ohio, pleaded guilty in Wood County Common Pleas Court to theft, a fourth-degree felony, for making unauthorized credits to his personal credit card from fuel sales, hangar rent, pilot supplies, and other airport revenue between April, 2007, and March of this year.

The airport authority never gave consent to the defendant to exercise these transactions in this way, county Assistant Prosecutor Paul Dobson said. The funds ended up in his pocket and on his credit card.

Although Morrison could face six to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 7 by Judge Alan Mayberry, Mr. Dobson said he would be recommending Morrison be sentenced to 30 days in the county jail and placed on probation.

Mr. Dobson said Morrison made full restitution to the airport authority.

Prior to yesterday s hearing, Morrison s attorney, Bill Hayes, delivered a check for $68,847 to compensate for the money that was stolen as well as a check for $3,550 to reimburse the airport authority for the cost of a special audit.

Two members of the airport authority board were in court along with two employees.

We re satisfied with the way things came out, said Dick Martin, a board member.

Mike Solley, president of the airport board, said the airport wanted restitution first and foremost.

Preston s a likable guy, Mr. Solley said. I certainly wouldn t have wished this to happen to either one of us.

He said Morrison began working at the airport in June, 2006, and was promoted to assistant manager in the spring of 2007.

Morrison was a senior at Bowling Green State University when the theft was discovered during an audit by the state. He told Judge Mayberry he did not graduate.

Mr. Hayes said Morrison is now working in electrical contracting and borrowed money from his family to repay the airport authority.

He s a good fellow. He s got no prior record, Mr. Hayes said afterward. He s going to be paying restitution to his family for a long, long time.

Mr. Solley said that the airport has hired an outside accounting firm to watch over its books and has changed some of its procedures in an attempt to avoid similar losses in the future.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.comor 419-353-5972.



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