Treasurer for dozens of Ohio political campaigns accused of stealing nearly $1M from clients

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man who has served as treasurer for dozens of political campaigns in Ohio over the past 40 years is facing federal wire fraud charges for allegedly stealing nearly $1 million from clients.

William Curlis, 76, is accused of writing checks from campaign accounts to himself for personal use and taking steps to hide the thefts. He allegedly stole $995,231 between 2008 and June 2023, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Ohio.

A plea agreement has been filed in the case, prosecutors said, but further details have not been disclosed.

“The filing of the plea agreement demonstrates Mr. Curlis’ commitment to accepting responsibility and demonstrating remorse for his actions,” said his attorney, Mark Collins.

“He walked into the U.S. Attorney’s office and admitted his wrongdoings,” Collins said. “I cannot discuss the details or reasons at this point. However, once this case works through the federal system, those questions will be answered.”

Curlis served as treasurer for more than 100 local, state and federal Republican campaigns, often as the only signatory on accounts, prosecutors said. According to court documents, he wrote himself multiple checks from candidates’ campaign funds and one PAC’s fund while serving as treasurer.

To conceal the thefts, Curlis allegedly transferred funds between accounts without the candidates’ knowledge and falsified corresponding campaign finance reports. Curlis sold his home in 2016, allegedly to cover the cost of campaign expenses and conceal account deficits caused by his theft.

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