YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A former season employee of the Mahoning County Treasurer’s Office has been indicted on 15 new charges related to theft in office.
In January, Kyheem Underwood was charged with theft in office and forgery after investigators said he took several tax checks and tried to cash them.
The arrest warrant for the 19-year-old isn’t his only problem. He’s now been indicted for a third time for stealing and then cashing checks from the Mahoning County Treasurer, something he was first caught doing last October.
In March, Treasurer Dan Yemma said Underwood was caught right away and prosecuted, saying it was the first time since he took office in 2011 that an employee was caught stealing.
“This young man…maintained that that was a one-time and now we find out there were more, so he’s in some serious trouble,” Yemma said.
Underwood is now charged with three counts each of theft in office, theft, receiving stolen property and six counts of forgery.
He was hired as a temporary employee to help with opening the mail during tax season last summer. Sheriff’s Deputies say Underwood was helping himself to property tax checks and money orders, something that took a while to be discovered.
“He cashed them, alright, around the same time, but you don’t find out about it until the homeowner comes forward and says they’re delinquent, but they paid their taxes,” Major Jeff Allen said.
While detectives can’t say for sure whether or not Underwood took any more checks, it is already becoming an issue for the November election.
“You have temporary employees coming in, they’re dealing with millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars and they need to be checked out before they are working in that office,” said Christine Oliver, who is challenging Yemma for the Treasurer position.
Oliver argues that the office as a whole is not running efficiently. She cites an auditor’s report issued last June claiming that while checks for taxes are coming in, staffing issues cause mail to go unopened for extended periods, some for more than a year.
“Checks that are so stale-dated, banks won’t even honor those checks. That’s a long time to be sitting around uncashed,” she said.
“That would be someone who’s totally unfamiliar with the office,” Yemma said.
He insists that updated equipment has sped up the check-banking process and procedures are now in place to keep a closer eye on those handling the mail.
In the meantime, Underwood, who skipped out on a sentencing hearing earlier this week, is due in court on his new charges next month.