Audit: Mother-daughter duo bilked Arlington Heights of $260K

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, OH (FOX19) - Two former court clerks are on the hook for more than $260,000 in missing village funds, according to a special audit of the Village of Arlington Heights Mayor's Court released Thursday by Auditor of State Dave Yost.

"The lack of internal controls in Arlington Heights created an environment ripe for theft," Auditor Yost said.  "This mother/daughter duo took advantage of the situation, and in this case, taxpayers were the victims."

On February 16, 2010, the Auditor of State's office received a request from the village to help investigate missing funds from the mayor's court.  Auditors tested a three-month period and found that approximately $24,000 in mayor's court funds were collected, but not deposited.  On November 10, 2010, the Auditor of State's office initiated a special audit.

The special audit reviewed court receipts for fines, court costs and bonds received from July 1, 2007 through February 19, 2010.  Auditors determined that $262,297 was never deposited into the court's bank account.  Findings for recovery in the total amount of $262,297 were issued against former Court Clerk Donna Covert.  Her daughter, former Deputy Court Clerk Laura Jarvis, was held jointly and severally liable for $258,345.

During the course of the audit, Covert and Jarvis admitted to taking village funds and putting it into their personal bank accounts. Auditors identified $29,842 and $19,398 of cash deposited into Covert's and Jarvis's personal accounts, respectively.

Jarvis resigned from her job on Dec. 31, 2009 and Covert resigned from her job on Feb. 19, 2010.

"It hurt me all over, hurt us all when we found out about it," said Arlington Heights Councilman John Scott.  Scott has lived in Arlington Heights for sixty years, serving as a council member for at least twenty years. "We just couldn't hardly believe it happened, but it did," Scott added.

Prosecutors say the defendants used the money to pay for ordinary household expenses and medical bills.

Covert and Jarvis were indicted on charges of theft in office, tampering with records and unauthorized use of property on July 31, 2012.  Covert pled guilty to the theft and was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay $260,000 in restitution.  Jarvis' trial date is scheduled for September 16, 2013.

You can read the full audit here {PDF}.

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