Created on Saturday, 06 October 2012 Written by THE BELLEFONTAINE EXAMINER STAFF
SIDNEY — A three-month investigation into allegations of illegal activity by the Shelby County Humane Society has concluded with indictments, which were handed down by a Shelby County grand jury Thursday.
The indictments were against Mike Lescowitch, of Sidney, president of the humane society, and Angela Bray, of Sidney, treasurer. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office had received allegations of missing funds and, therefore, opened an investigation.
Officials said a total of $18,485.92 was found misappropriated, used for personal purposes or questionable purchases not associated with the humane society. Lescowitch was indicted for one count of theft in office, a felony of the fourth degree, and Bray for one count of theft, a felony of the fifth degree.
A court order by Shelby County Common Pleas Court has frozen cash assets of $19,107 currently in two accounts held by the humane society.
The society, which was operating as a 501 (c) (3), nonprofit organization, had failed to file the proper documentation to continue its nonprofit status and is accused of continuing to use a 501 (c) (3) status for three years without authorization to do so. The 501 (c) (3) designation is conferred upon qualified nonprofit organizations by the Internal Revenue Service, and, in Ohio, exempts those organizations from paying sales taxes on purchases of goods and services used to further their missions.
Humane society personnel have been accused of making purchases for personal purposes under the nonprofit status, thereby avoiding the paying of sales taxes.
The investigation revealed that humane society funds were allegedly used to pay for the towing of Bray’s personal wave runners, tires for her personal vehicle, personal cell phone bills, Wii games and various other purchases. It also was found that Wal-mart gift cards were allegedly purchased with humane society funds and were later used to purchase items for personal use.
There were also several instances of misuse of the humane society credit cards, according to officials, who said humane society’s record keeping was almost nonexistent and willfully negligent.
The issue of the organization's nonprofit status will be turned over to the IRS for further investigation. It is believed at this time that $649.46 is owed to the state for sales taxes that were not paid on purchases made for personal purposes.