The Fairfield County clerk of courts and her husband pleaded not guilty yesterday to theft-related felony charges filed by the state auditor.
Deborah K. Smalley and David E. Smalley, both 60, appeared in court yesterday, after being arrested by county deputies outside their home in Bloom Township.
Special Prosecutor Robert F. Smith, who works for state Auditor Dave Yost, filed the charges in Fairfield County Municipal Court. He said he moved swiftly because he had concerns that the couple might flee the country.
Smith said the Smalleys were in Canada recently and also scheduled — then canceled — an auction of household belongings that was to have been held this week.
“That raised concerns of where they would be in the future,” he said.
Mrs. Smalley is charged with theft in office, a third-degree felony. She is accused of using county property for work on her campaign and ordering her employees to work on the campaign in return for compensatory time off. A conviction could mean up to three years in prison.
Mr. Smalley is charged with complicity to have an unlawful interest in a public contract, a fourth-degree felony. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison. Authorities say he helped his wife commit the offense twice — in February and in June.
Smith wouldn’t say more about the accusations.
Each of the Smalleys posted a $1,500 personal-recognizance bond. Municipal Court Judge David A. Trimmer also ordered them to surrender their passports and guns, and to stay in Ohio.
Mrs. Smalley was appointed in 2005 by the county Republican Party Central Committee to fill an unexpired term. She won election in 2006 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2012. She earns an annual salary of $68,903 and oversees 45 employees.
Mr. Smalley, a former Lancaster City Council member, is a real-estate agent. He also works as general manager at the Community Transition Center in Lancaster, a halfway house for felons.
“We certainly think that she should have resigned back in August (when the GOP first said she should), and we only feel more strongly that she should resign now, immediately,” said Kyle Farmer, chairman of the county GOP. “She certainly is not doing the citizens of Fairfield County any favors by hanging on any longer.”
Besides the investigation that resulted in the charges, a special state audit into the clerk’s office is underway.
By Mary Beth Lane - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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