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Clark County clerk loses lawsuit over direct deposit

A judge ruled Monday that Clark County Auditor John Federer didn’t withhold the paycheck of the county common pleas court clerk and committed “no wrongful” acts against him.

Clark County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts Ron Vincent filed a lawsuit in August against Federer, demanding his paychecks that had been withheld since January 2015. Vincent hadn’t received more than $21,000 in pay when the lawsuit was filed.

But visiting Retired Greene County Judge J. Timothy Campbell ruled in favor of Federer on all four counts and said Vincent could receive all of his pay by merely submitting a direct deposit form to Federer and all his money would be placed in his account.

Federer said he was pleased the court case was over and that it’s time for officials to move on for the “greater good of the community.”

He reiterated that the lawsuit was a waste of taxpayer money.

“I’m disturbed that an elected official, either new or seasoned, would take the position that this elected official took for whatever reason. The time and burden at the expense of the taxpayer, to the staff of the auditor’s office and to others throughout county government was unnecessary and short-sided by the plaintiff,” Federer said.

Clark County judges and prosecutors recused themselves from the case, which resulted in the state appointing Campbell to handle it and the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office to represent Federer.

Vincent, however, still claims that Federer stole his identity and established a bank account in his name at Security National Bank and provided Vincent’s personal information, including his Social Security Number, without Vincent’s knowledge.

“I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. The issue was that he stole my identity more than direct deposit,” Vincent said on Monday.

Vincent said he probably won’t appeal Campbell’s order.

Federer denied Vincent’s claims of identity theft.

“I’m sorry he feels that way. But it’s indicative of what he’s put the county through so far,” Federer said. “There was an account for his benefit that he had to go in and sign up for. We told him for months that he needed to go into Security and get it set up … There was no identity stolen here.”

Campbell noted that testimony in the case disclosed that Vincent receives his Social Security and payment from the Ohio Supreme Court for services for the Court of Appeals by direct deposit. The state also allows the county auditor “discretionary authority” to adopt a policy requiring employees and public officials to be paid by direct deposit, the judge said, but doesn’t say whether those on the county payroll can opt out.

“To allow those who are subject to the policy to choose their method of payment would result in chaos; some could require payment by electronic deposit; some require payment by check; some require payment in cash; some require payment in coin, etc.,” Campbell’s ruling says.

The county auditor’s office established a policy in 2012 requiring all public employees be paid by direct deposit, but state law at the time excluded elected officials. The law was amended to include elected officials in 2014.

Federer said Vincent, a public official, took a personal position that “eroded the public confidence.”

Vincent, when asked if he would use direct deposit to receive his paychecks, said he didn’t know because he hadn’t read the judge’s order yet.

He disputed the claim that the lawsuit wasted taxpayer dollars.

“He stole my identity and then opened up an account in my name without my authorization. That’s kind of scary,” Vincent said.

Federer shot back that Vincent needs to look up in the dictionary what identity theft means.

Costs associated with the lawsuit must be paid by Vincent, Campbell ruled.

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