Geauga County Lost $2.7 Million, Not $1.7 Million in Embezzlement

By: Irate Taxpayer

Every time Prosecutor James Royal Flaiz told the citizens of Geauga County and the media that we lost $1.7 in an embezzlement scheme in the County Auditor’s office, he lied. When he said that he first learned of the embezzlement in September 2017, he lied. We are stuck with a liar as the person who decides the fate of others.

Starting on June 4, 2014, a county employee kept hand-written notes of twenty-six times she contacted, or met with, the prosecutor’s office telling them that there was money missing from the Auditor’s. Her efforts continued until March 16, 2016. She sent an email that day with an updated report to Flaiz’s assistant, Laura LaChapelle, and also asked if she should continue to send the reports. She got no response.

When finally forced to do something, Flaiz began an investigation in 2017. The money was stolen by the late IT Director, Steven Decatur, through a scheme with a Texas company, ITERSource, for which he once worked. ITERSource would send bills for work that was never done or was done in-house. Former Auditor Frank Gliha and Decatur would then approve payment. A check was sent to Texas, ITERSource would keep about 20% of the money and send the rest to Decatur’s daughter, Stephanie Stewart’s company SMCS.

In early 2018, Flaiz and investigator Rick Warner interviewed William Kelly, Jr., an official at ITERSource, Flaiz said the following, which was recorded: “One of the fundamental problems I have is we’ve got $2.4 million worth of work and the only subcontractor you use, you’ve talked to ten times in eight years….”

By the way, Flaiz dismissed all charges against Kelly (Case No. 18C000022) because Flaiz said that Kelly was not working at the company when the embezzlement was happening. But Kelly told Flaiz he had talked to Stewart repeatedly through the years.

The charges against ITERSource owner, Eugene Joesph Krus (Case No. 18C000021), has had not any action since 11/27/19 and is still an open case. Apparently, Judge David Ondrey is content not to do his job, nor to demand Flaiz do his.

How much of the loss of money falls at the feet of Flaiz who did not pursue the case when first warned? Including only half the year of 2014 through 2017, Flaiz let $1,276,437 walk out the door. Then add $164,000 for the forensic accountant and $82,000 for attorneys. $1,522,437. Why does Flaiz still have a job? Attached is the breakdown from the investigation records.

5 thoughts on “Geauga County Lost $2.7 Million, Not $1.7 Million in Embezzlement

  1. Frank Gliha was charged with five misdemeanors. He intentionally signed off on the payment of bogus bills. He should have been charged with felonies and should be in jail. Because Flaiz had been warned and knew what was happening in his pal Gliha’s office, Flaiz should have been charged with aiding, abetting and as a co-conspirator. He should have an adjoining cell.

  2. Prosecutorial misconduct is not only malicious prosecution but also failure to act. He needs to be held accountable for not seeking justice, and not just in this case. The residents of Geauga County deserve better.

  3. The Commissioners were aware in Sept. ’17 that Flaiz had been warned since June ’14. They did nothing, but tell Flaiz about the written notes. Remember that the next time you vote.

    Flaiz did not try a single criminal trial before he was handed the job of prosecutor. His ineptness is on display continuously. He has caused the county to spend a small fortune on outside lawyers to handle cases he does not have the ability to try. The worst example was when he charged both Steven Decatur and his daughter, Stephanie Stewart, with 334 felony counts for the embezzlement at the Auditor’s Office. Only an amateur would charge anyone with 334 counts. (Decatur died before sentencing and Stewart had 333 counts dismissed and got probation.) In comparison, a real prosecutor in Cleveland charged Jimmy Dimora with 37 felony counts for taking bribes. One count was dismissed and he is spending 28 years in jail.

  4. Flaiz runs roughshod over the whole county including the Commissioners.

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