Niles tax investigator suspended after arrest


NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Niles tax investigator Heidi Powell has been suspended from her job after she was arrested on a charge of theft in office earlier this week.

She also may be looking at a probation violation from when she was convicted in April of taking $1,300 from the Bazetta AT&T store, where she was a former manager. Powell, 33, is now accused of stealing $731 from the city tax office.

When WKBN 27 First News investigated Powell in May, City Treasurer Bob Swauger said she deserved a second chance.

“She has worked hard and she feels bad for what she did. She made a mistake,” Swauger said at the time.

On Thursday, Swauger said by telephone that there would not be a third chance, saying “I am disappointed in Heidi.”

Niles Police Capt. Ken Criswell said it was a taxpayer who went into the treasure’rs office to pay a balance on her daughter’s bill who noticed something wasn’t right. The woman was paying a balance of $43, but she was told she still owed $93.

“She found out there was no record of her August payment for $50, so she either had the receipt with her or retrieved the receipt to prove to the tax worker that she did make the payment. That is what started this whole thing,” Criswell said.

That contradicts the story Swauger told our print partner, the Tribune Chronicle, in which he said “The income tax software the city uses assisted greatly in stopping this very early and limiting the dollar amount that was supposedly taken.”

Criswell said the software couldn’t find the deleted deposits at first.

“The software company created a software so they could go back and run historically what had been deleted for the past seven years and that is when the others ones turned up after that,” Criswell said.

Eleven residents in Niles were affected by Powell’s alleged theft, but police said it’s possible there could be more.

Powell posted bond and is suspended from her job pending the outcome of a hearing next week between the city and the union that represents her.

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