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Retired teachers non-profit faces allegations of theft, mismanagement

The recently fired executive director of a non-profit lodged a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General that alleges he was fired after uncovering corruption, fraud and theft.

John Cavanaugh, who was dismissed earlier this month by the Ohio Retired Teachers Association, said in his complaint: “This is an urgent matter as my office manager and I have been tipped off that the Executive Committee plans to destroy evidence of criminal activity and fraud once we are terminated.”

ORTA, a non-profit with roughly 20,000 members, keeps an eye on pension issues impacting retired Ohio teachers.

“Everything you got in front of you is just ridiculous,” said Randy Overbeck, president of the ORTA board, regarding Cavanaugh’s complaint. “John was fired for insubordination and breach of confidentiality.”

Cavanaugh declined to comment.

Related: Retired teachers to lose cost of living increase

Evelyn Massey, who joined ORTA as the office manager in April 2016, also filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section, detailing that she found a lack of documentation for credit card charges and extra paychecks issued to some ORTA employees.

But on Tuesday, Massey said she was pressured by Cavanaugh to file the complaint in February and now she wants to withdraw it. “He wanted me to go ahead and file a complaint, so I did. He was my boss,” she said.

She said she isn’t sure if the lack of documentation for some checks and charges is a matter of honest mistakes or something more serious.

In June 2016, Mark Anderson, a certified public accountant who reviewed ORTA financial records, told the board that the previous administration did not appear to know how to use the sophisticated accounting and bookkeeping software that ORTA purchased.

The accountant also flagged ORTA’s use of several credit cards, saying that charges were excessive, and he noted that ORTA’s investment performance has been below average.

In a February email to Overbeck, Cavanaugh outlined 21 steps he had taken as executive director to tighten internal controls, review investment performance, remedy tax errors with the IRS and monitor cash flow.

This newspaper obtained the Cavanaugh and Massey complaints from the Attorney General’s office through a public records request. The AG’s investigative records are not made public unless it results in a court case or settlement, a spokesman said.

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