ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, OH (FOX19) - A mother and daughter have been indicted for pocketing traffic fine money from the village of Arlington Heights while they were employees.
Laura Jarvis, 32, of Cincinnati, and Donna Covert, 52, of Reading, have been indicted for two counts of theft in office, two counts of tampering with records and one count of unauthorized use of property.
The charges involve the theft of approximately $260,000 from the Village of Arlington Heights between July 1, 2007 and Feb. 19, 2010. If convicted of all charges, the defendants face the possibility of 15 years in prison.
In January 2010, Arlington Heights Police Chief Robert Lawson reported his concerns about the record keeping for the village's traffic docket and his concern about possible theft. The Ohio Attorney's General Office and the State Auditor investigated his concerns which resulted in the indictment.
Covert worked for Arlington Heights starting in the early 1990's and had a variety of jobs including Clerk of Court, Payroll Clerk, the mayor's secretary and as an employee in the Human Resource division.
Her duties included making bank deposits for the village and supervising her daughter, Laura Jarvis.
Jarvis was employed as a court clerk for Arlington Heights from 1998 to 2009. Some of her duties included maintaining the traffic and criminal court records for the village, accepting payments on these cases, modifying/updating the citations in the law enforcement database, and making bank deposits.
"The detailed audit was complete and thorough. I am stunned by the amount of money that is missing and I'm sure the prosecutors office will do their job's and justice will prevail," said Ken Harper, Arlington Chief of Police.
The "traffic program" that was established many years ago has been permanently suspended.
Jarvis resigned from her job on Dec. 31, 2009 and Covert resigned from her job on Feb. 19, 2010.
Prosecutors say the defendants used the money to pay for ordinary household expenses and medical bills.
"The Village Council needs to seriously consider dissolving the Village of Arlington Heights," said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. "The Village seems to be nothing more than a speed trap with no checks and balances. Two of its employees were using it as their personal cookie jar. Consolidating with another political subdivision is long overdue."
Chief of Police Ken Harper released the following statement: "The detailed audit was complete and thorough. I am stunned by the amount of money that is missing and I'm sure the prosecutors office will do their job's and justice will prevail. Since appointed to my position in late 2010 the clerks office has been completely overhauled there is a complete set of checks and balances. Our wonderful little village is doing just fine and as far as I know have no plans to merge with anyone anytime soon."
"Village officials brought this theft to light and the Special Investigation and Special Audit units in the Auditor of State's office have worked hard for the past two years to support these indictments," State Auditor Dave Yost said. "I congratulate them and the staff in County Prosecutor Deters' office for protecting the public purse."