Crestline Fire Chief Pleads Guilty: Theft in Office, Tampering with Records

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COLUMBUS — The chief of the Crestline Fire Department pleaded guilty Monday to two criminal charges after investigators determined he previously worked full-time jobs for multiple public agencies simultaneously, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced.

Matthew Wells admitted to felony counts of tampering with records and theft in office during a hearing in Richland County Common Pleas Court. He is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

The alleged theft was uncovered during an investigation by the Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which received a complaint that Wells was being paid by two public entities for the same hours worked.

SIU determined Wells was employed by the Ohio Department of Education, the Springfield Township Fire Department in Richland County and the Pleasant Township Fire Department in Marion County and claimed the same work hours for two agencies.

As part of a plea deal, Wells will pay total restitution and audits costs of $26,384. He will also be barred from public sector employment.

Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 120 convictions resulting in more than $8.3 million in restitution. The team receives hundreds of tips of suspected fraud annually. Tips can be submitted anonymously online or via SIU’s fraud hotline at 866-FRAUD-OH (866-372-8364).

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