A former township trustee was sentenced to probation after he pleaded guilty to taking taxpayer dollars and paid the money back.
Ronald “Joe” Sichting, 78, 1346 Swan Drive, Franklin, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one count of official misconduct. He was sentenced to three years on probation and 1,000 hours of community service.
Sichting, who formerly served as the Hensley Township trustee, also paid back nearly $100,000 to the township, Prosecutor Brad Cooper said.
A state audit showed Sichting had cashed $65,000 in checks from township funds and deposited them into an account for a business he had owned, but later dissolved, labeling those expenses as investments. The State Board of Accounts conducted the investigatory audit after Sichting lost his bid for re-election. When new trustee Beth Baird was elected, she noticed irregularities.
The audit also showed several other issues, including receipts for office supplies purchased from a hardware store that doesn’t sell office supplies. Reimbursements were made without documentation, and overdraft fees were paid on township accounts. Payments were listed as going to the township’s investigator — Sichting’s daughter — that she never received and were deposited into Sichting’s account.
The investigation also showed Sichting altered the township’s financial records that were given to a consultant hired to prepare the annual financial report.
In total, including expenses to audit the township’s finances, Sichting was ordered to pay $75,264 back to the township.
Since then, Sichting has paid more than $99,800 back to the township, Cooper said.
The extra money will go into the township’s account for local services, such as poor relief, and also is to pay back the township for the time the money was missing, Cooper said.
With that reimbursement, along with his age and no past criminal history being considered, Sichting was sentenced to probation, Cooper said.
He also was ordered to do 1,000 hours of community service helping the poor, since that is a part of what he was supposed to do as township trustee, Cooper said.
Cooper had said the amount of money taken was the largest amount he could remember being taken from a government office in recent years.