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Former Executive Director of Ohio Transportation Nonprofit Pleads Guilty and Agrees To Pay $74,585 in Restitution

On May 1, 2017, Denise L. Birt pleaded guilty to theft in Logan County Common Pleas Court, Bellefontaine, Ohio. Birt is the former executive director of the Tri-County Community Action Commission (TCCAC), a nonprofit organization that provided transportation services in the Shelby, Champaign, and Logan Counties of Ohio.
The investigation revealed the TCCAC received approximately $2,720,658 in ARRA grant funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The funds were used to purchase and renovate a TCCAC administrative and maintenance facility in Bellefontaine. On October 30, 2012, Birt and TCCAC board chairman Robert Notestine obtained a $275,000 mortgage loan from Liberty National Bank (Liberty), which was secured by a mortgage lien on the TCCAC facility. To obtain the mortgage, Birt misrepresented the title of record to the property and provided an erroneous deed. Subsequently, TCCAC defaulted on the loan, and Liberty filed a lawsuit to foreclose on the property. Furthermore, Birt gave herself an unauthorized salary increase of $200 per pay period, receiving an extra $74,585.54 over several years.
As part of the plea agreement, Birt agreed to pay the TCCAC $74,585.54 in restitution.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Logan County, Ohio, Prosecutor’s Office and the Office of the Ohio State Auditor.