LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – The former Leetonia police chief managed two secret bank accounts from which he paid himself more than $14,000, according to Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Yost’s audit was released on Thursday.
Former Police Chief John Soldano was indicted in May on a third-degree felony count of theft in office. The charges were filed after a state audit uncovered more than $7,500 missing from two department accounts.
Further investigation by the Auditor of State’s Public Integrity Assurance Team determined that Soldano wrote 21 checks to himself from the two secret accounts.
The payments, totaling $14,200, lacked supporting documentation and authorization from the village.
Soldano was the Leetonia Police Chief for 26 years.
“A police chief should be the gold standard of integrity for a community,” Auditor Yost said. “It’s a sad day for everyone in law enforcement when one of their own abuses the public’s trust.”
Auditors identified more fraudulent activity while comparing the village’s dispatch logs to Soldano’s leave balances. Records showed Soldano was paid for 258 hours and 15 minutes of leave in 2012 and 2013, but the hours were not deducted from his leave balances. The false leave balances resulted in a $1,716 overpayment for unused leave when Soldano retired in October 2015.
Auditors issued $15,916 in findings for recovery against Soldano, which he repaid to the village on Jan. 17, 2017. He is scheduled to be arraigned at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.
A full copy of the report is available online.