Former fair board treasurer arraigned

The former treasurer for the Madison County Agricultural Society — also known as the fair board — was arraigned in Madison County Common Pleas Court Tuesday on three counts of failing to file state income tax returns for the organization.

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

Judge Eamon Costello released Roseberry on the agreement that she would attend future court proceedings. She is represented by Michael Hess of Circleville.

Robert Smith, the assistant chief legal counsel for the Ohio Auditor of State, is prosecuting the case.

Roseberry is facing both felony criminal charges and a civil lawsuit, stemming from her former job with the ag society.

Fair board members filed a civil lawsuit against Roseberry in May, 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.

Roseberry 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 state auditor Dave Yost, who appointed Robert Smith to handle the case.

Smith said the withdrawal of $60,000 would not be pursued as a theft charge because Roseberry was apparently victim to a scam, and had no criminal intent.

Brandon Semler can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or via Twitter @BrandonSemler.