COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two former top officials will repay thousands of dollars to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after audits found improper spending and questionable business practices cost the institution more than $630,000.
The zoo’s board of directors approved a $132,000 settlement with former chief financial officer Greg Bell during a special meeting Wednesday, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Board Chairman Keith Shumate also said Tracy Murnane, the former director of purchasing, has agreed to repay $11,000.
Bell and Tom Stalf, the zoo’s former president and chief executive officer, both resigned last March after an investigation by the newspaper found they allowed relatives to live in houses owned or controlled by the zoo and sought tickets for family members to zoo entertainment events.
Forensic auditors found Bell was responsible for nearly $139,000 of the $631,000 in overall losses, while Murnane was responsible for nearly $13,000, the newspaper reported. While the settlement amounts reached with both men fell short of the total estimated losses, Shumate told the newspaper the amounts were a compromise.
Officials continue to seek repayment deals with Stalf and Pete Fingerhut, the zoo’s former vice president of marketing and sales, who were also cited in the audits. Stalf was responsible for $423,000 of the losses, according to the auditors, while Fingerhut was responsible for nearly $57,000 in losses.