Former fair board treasurer charged

A West Jefferson resident is facing both felony criminal charges and a civil lawsuit, stemming from her former job as treasurer of the Madison County Agricultural Society — also known as the fair board.

Brenda K. Roseberry, 63, was indicted by the grand jury last week on three counts of failing to file state income tax returns and pay third-quarter payroll withholding taxes for the fair board in 2009, 2012 and 2013.

She is scheduled for arraignment on the fifth-degree felonies on June 23, Madison County Common Pleas Court documents showed.

In May, fair board members also lodged a civil lawsuit against Roseberry, accusing the woman of not only failing to file and pay the organization’s taxes and bond insurance, but most significantly, of withdrawing $60,491 from fair accounts in September without authorization.

The suit also said Roseberry didn’t file the board’s federal tax returns for 10 years. As a result, it lost nonprofit status and was forced to pay unspecified penalties and interest.

Roger Eckelberry and Jacqueline Matthews of the Baker Hostetler law firm in Columbus are representing the fair board in the civil case.

In a counter-claim filed Monday, Roseberry asked Judge Eamon Costello to dismiss the civil lawsuit. She accused fair board members of negligence in supervising her actions over the years. She also said the board owes her about $8,000 in unpaid annual salary from 2011 and 2012, as well as out-of-pocket expenses, including $1,800 in office supplies and about $900 in utility bills.

The countersuit claims Roseberry is owed a total of $10,727.

Circleville attorney Michael Hess represents Roseberry in both the civil and criminal cases.

“We’re not making allegations against any other individuals at this time,” Hess said.

He said after the discovery process moves forward, he hopes for a good resolution to all parties involved.

Roseberry denied withdrawing money from fair board accounts in September without proper authorization. Those withdrawals required two member signatures, according to current board president Darrell Champer.

The money was withdrawn using multiple checks. According to the lawsuit, at least two checks were signed blank by former fair board official Les Walters. The suit alleges Roseberry forged Walters’ signature on two other checks.

Roseberry was fired in October after telling former board president Dusty Parker she had “done something stupid” by falling victim to a scam.

She admitted withdrawing $60,491 from both senior and junior fair accounts to pay what she thought were back taxes owed by the board. Roseberry said scammers, posing as IRS officials, had contacted her by phone and demanded the money in pre-paid Visa cards.

At the time, Roseberry asked forgiveness and promised to “make it right” with the board, published reports said.

The incident sparked a wider investigation of the fair board and Roseberry’s actions during her 10-year tenure as treasurer.

County prosecutor Steve Pronai requested help from Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost, who appointed Bob Smith to handle the case. Smith filed the the felony charges on June 10, court documents showed.

Champer said Thursday the civil lawsuit is “between (Roseberry’s) lawyer and our lawyer.”

“We’re trying to recoup the funds that were misappropriated,” he added.

He admitted back pay is an issue, but said Roseberry’s annual salary was approved by a previous board.

“It’s a new thing for us (the current board). We no longer pay any board of director in any position,” Champer said.

Dean Shipley contributed to this report.

Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.