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Probe finds state employee falsified papers to claim $18K in National Guard leave pay

Airmen perform maintenance on one of the C-130s assigned to the Ohio Air National Guard 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield. [File photo/Dispatch/TNS]

A state employee falsified paperwork to fraudulently claim more than $18,000 in military leave pay when not on duty with the Ohio Air National Guard, the state inspector general concluded in a report released Tuesday.

Brian Kessler, who worked in the child-support office of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, submitted unsigned papers to claim 46 days of military pay when he did not work for the Guard, an investigation found.

A review of records by the office of Inspector General Randall J. Meyer established that Kessler fraudulently claimed military pay totaling $18,530 between March 2013 and last December.

A suspicious supervisor tipped off the inspector general’s office when he questioned the authenticity of a military-leave order turned in by Kessler.

Kessler, 47, who was paid $62,806 last year, has worked for the state for 24 years. He was a nine-year member of the Air National Guard, working in financial management at Mansfield.

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Meyer referred his investigation to the office of Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien for consideration of filing of criminal charges.

Meyer’s office cited Job and Family Services officials for improperly accepting Guard leave letters that contained no signatures.

Comment was being sought from agency and Guard officials on Kessler’s job status.

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© 2020 The Columbus Dispatch