Former Geauga County IT Director accused of embezzling over $1.5M from county

CHARDON, OH (WOIO) - Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz held a news conference on Monday afternoon to discuss developments in the case against former Geauga County IT Director Stephen Decatur.

Decatur, 59, and his daughter Stephanie E. Stewart, are accused of embezzling over $1.5 million from the county.

"As IT Director he had diverted money to his daughter and himself through a series of invoices and bank transactions," said Flaiz.

Officials say the money was taken from Feb. 2010 to Oct. 2017.

Decatur was indicted on a total of 334 counts; including, aggravated theft, theft in office, money laundering, telecommunications fraud and having unlawful interest in a public contract.

Stewart was indicted on the charges of aggravated theft, complicity to theft in office, telecommunications fraud and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand explained how the scheme took so long to come to light, after an employee at the auditor's office became suspicious.

"Steve Decatur as the chief IT guy for the whole county had all the keys to the kingdom," said Hildenbrand.

Since the IT director controls all county computers, investigators couldn't even use their normal investigative tools for fear Decatur would detect their work, according to Flaiz. "I could not go through the auditor's office to find out information regarding vendor payments and other bank issues."

No one came to the door at Decatur's Chesterland home. When the raid of his home was conducted, a computer bought for law enforcement was found there, one that had been missing for three years said Sheriff Hildenbrand.

"He was actually the one that was trying to help us find this computer. He said anytime that comes on we're gonna know we're gonna track it. He even alluded to some of the employees that may have taken it and this whole time he had it in his house."

More charges are possible having to do with another company kicking back to Decatur.

The hope is that through seizure of his property, insurance and taking his accrued pension some of the money will be recovered.

The actual money taken has been spent.

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