BELLBROOK — The State of Ohio may be willing to plea bargain with Bellbrook Superintendent Dr. Doug Cozad, who is facing multiple charges of illegal transaction of public funds and dereliction of duty.
According to a pretrial report filed by Samuel Kirk, special prosecutor from the state auditor’s office, the state is recommending that Cozad plead guilty to one count of illegal transaction of public funds and three counts of dereliction of duty. In return, the state will drop the remaining charges.
Kirk also recommended Cozad pay restitution in the amount of $61,214 plus court costs.
The report, filed after a December pretrial hearing, indicates that the defendant “needs time to review voluminous discovery” and that the “parties request additional pretrial the week of Jan. 17 to discuss potential resolution.”
Illegal transaction of public funds is a first-degree misdemeanor while dereliction of duty is a second-degree misdemeanor according to court documents.
The charges, filed by John M. Uhl — fraud investigator for the Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit — allege that Cozad, 47, authorized the payment of government funds for printing and mailing school levy newsletters around March or April 2019 in addition to authorizing the use of public funds to hire Allerton Hill Consulting to assist in “reviving and passing” another proposed operating levy which included a phone survey after the levy failed in May 2019.
According to court documents, more than $57,000 in public funds were used.
Board President David Carpenter, board member Virginia Slouffman and past board members Elizabeth Betz and Kathy Kingston have also been charged with one count each of illegal transaction of public funds and dereliction of duty.
Betz, Carpenter, Kingston and Slouffman, who all served on the school board at the time, signed a letter in April/May 2019 that was part of a mailer to school district residents.
Kirk declined to comment since it’s an ongoing case.