December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Avon Lake secretary resigns after credit card misuse

AVON LAKE — A city employee resigned after it was discovered she was misusing a city-issued credit card.

Elizabeth Gedeon, who worked as Mayor Greg Zilka’s secretary since he took office in January 2012, was using a city credit card for personal purchases. Zilka said Gedeon did not break any laws, but she did violate the city’s credit card use policy.

“There was a violation of our credit card policy and based upon that we did an investigation,” Zilka said during a telephone interview. “It was deemed there was no criminal wrongdoing and none of the city’s finances were used for those purchases.”

Zilka said the issue was brought to his attention July 10 when the city’s finance director, Steve Presley, discovered the personal purchases. Gideon used the credit card for a year and spent more than $11,000 on personal items like movie rentals, gas and meals, Zilka said, although she always paid for purchases with her own money, and no city funds were used to pay balances.

Gedeon, who owed a balance of about $3,900 when the matter was brought to light, made final payments for her obligations July 19, Zilka said.

“She had a city card in her name, and our policy requires the purchases to be for city purposes,” Zilka said. “Personal purchases were made, but at the same time she assumed the responsibility for all those (purchases).”

Zilka said since the card was in Gedeon’s name, billing statements were addressed to her and never made it to the finance director, which is why the city initially was unaware of the misuse. He said city employee handbooks specifically prohibit personal purchases with city credit cards, and when approached, Gedeon told officials she was not aware of ever receiving a handbook or having knowledge of city credit card procedures.

The city has a process to make sure city money is not used to pay for personal items, Zilka said, in the form of purchase orders, which must be submitted and approved by the mayor and finance director. The city mainly uses American Express credit cards to acquire points to purchase rewards items like iPads and computers, Zilka said, and Gedeon had been buying things with the city’s MasterCard, which was being used less than the American Express cards.

“We have a new finance director who was doing his due diligence and saw that (MasterCard) statement was not filed,” Zilka said. “Even if the statement is zero, we should have been getting a zero statement.”

Zilka said Gedeon voluntarily resigned after a conversation with city officials July 12.
The credit card issue was discussed with City Council members during an executive session July 14, after which Council reconvened and accepted Gedeon’s resignation.

“It was a mistake on her part, now it’s over and done with, and we wish her well,” Zilka said.

Gedeon, who does not have a listed phone number, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonWysochanski.