Clerk indicted in Niles embezzlement

WARREN – A 61-year-old former employee in the Niles City Treasurer’s Office was indicted Thursday afternoon, accused of embezzling about $71,000 over an 18-month period.

Phyllis Wilson of Lincoln Avenue faces a third-degree felony charge of theft in office, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.

Wilson, a treasury clerk in the office until she retired last summer, tentatively is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan.

Assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker said a routine audit by the Ohio Auditor’s Office turned up the discrepancy in the office of Niles Treasurer Robert Swauger. Becker said cash deposits were discovered missing.

Swauger confirmed Thursday that an investigation into the department is ongoing.

“There is still a pending investigation (into the department), but out of respect to the investigators and the situation, I really cannot say anything further,” Swauger said.

Becker said that last week, Mayor Ralph Infante and City Council members were informed of the missing money and called in Niles police investigators, who put together a case over the past week.

An indictment against Wilson said the theft took place between Jan. 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013.

A source who wished to remain anonymous noted that the routine audit was performed in cooperation with the performance audit being conducted by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s office. In a Tribune Chronicle story from September 2013, city officials said they hoped the performance audit would provide a game plan for fixing some of the city’s recent financial issues.

Attempts to reach Niles Auditor Chuck Nader and multiple members of city council were unsuccessful.