November 22, 2014

Partly cloudy

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 Follow him on Twitter @JonWysochanski. 

  • MrRespect

    How do you not “Break” the Law when you “Steal” $11,000.00 ??????????????

    • Larry Crnobrnja

      From what I read, she made the payments, not the city. Did you miss that part?

      • MrRespect

        So it’s not “theft” as long as you pay them back? OK, can I borrow your Visa Larry!

        • Larry Crnobrnja

          You probably aren’t familiar with having a credit card in your name. The person on the card is responsible for the debt. So the simple answer is this isn’t a case of theft.

          Did you read the article?

    • Scout

      She didn’t ‘steal’. She paid for all her purchases with her money. She used poor judgment and it was right for her to resign.

  • Sis Delish

    $11k in Movie Rentals, Gasoline and Meals??

    What kind of money was the City Employee being paid?

    • tickmeoff

      Her Husband must be loaded! Lucky Girl!

      • Sis Delish

        Correction: Her Husband, at one-time, Was Loaded. LOL

        Multiply that Spending Capacity by the number of Credit Card Slots in her handbag. LOL

    • Scout

      This was over the course of almost 2 1/2 yrs. Even though she paid for the items it stil smacks of impropriety.

  • Otter

    Something just doesn’t smell right here. If she had her “own” money to pay for the purchases, why didn’t she use her own credit card, or better yet…actual cash.

    • golfingirl

      I believe her husband is an attorney.

      I am sure he encouraged her to resign and quietly ride off into the sunset.

      • Otter

        Hmmm, the smell just got worse, is he a partner in the Dowe Cheatem and Howe firm?

        • brenda


    • HankKwah

      Maybe she was getting rewards/miles or something? :)

      • Otter

        I hadn’t thought of that, so (in my weird little mind) that would still be stealing…but then, I would consider unauthorized use of a credit card stealing, the payments, restitution.

        • HankKwah

          I’m not arguing the stealing in the slightest. So, it’s not in your ‘weird little mind’ (LOL). That’s stealing. Period.

      • brenda


  • bigmacky

    same thing Elyria – but he got “fired” and rehired with all back pay – this isn’t any different – city credit card or a union credit card is for business use ONLY

  • Ian Know

    This is a cover up… The City has a 200.00 limit on a purchase or you need a P.O. number… she spent over that at one time. Also she falsified here monthly expense report paperwork other Avon Lake city employees have gone to jail for that in the pass. Lets look at the big picture. City Council met in not one but two executive sessions to deal with a employee problem… the next morning her office was cleaned out (like the pictures off the wall) and they said she resigned because of a problem with her kids. All this in the wee hours of the morning.

    • golfingirl

      Oh well….politics as usual in Avon Lake.

      At least they did the right thing and got rid of her and she did pay them back.

      I don’t like it either, but life goes on.

      • Ian Know

        Really… Lets see it was like a cash advance 2. She bought alcohol with it. 3. She got thing tax exempt. 4.after being told a number of times by the finance director to fill out a “P” card report. (a report that every issued credit card holder in the city HAS TO FILL OUT monthly even with a zero balance) she didn’t meaning she falsified city paperwork… This is the part where the words BREAKING THE LAW COMES IN TO PLAY…

        • golfingirl

          I am agreeing with you. I am not in any way condoning her actions, or the actions of the City of Avon Lake.

          Mayors Hausrod and Urbin paid the price, as well as Urbin’s brother Dan.

          Also Bucky Kopf….to name a few.

          • Ian Know

            Well she should too… Why is she above the law. If something wound of happend to her the city would be on the hook for that money… I just don’t think this should be sweep under the table..

        • Pablo Jones

          Breaking company/employer policies isn’t breaking the law.

      • brenda

        Ooh ok now life goes on. Not the usual name calling. Scumbag or himan waste, or whatever marvelous name you may come up with…nothing? That is such a shame….I was actually looking forward to some good name calling from you. But all you got is goes on!….like I said before..useless…just plain useless.

        • golfingirl

          So….. what it “himan” waste?

    • Otter

      When are people going to learn, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover up that gets you.

  • givemeabreak1234

    so she pays it back and doesn’t get prosecuted while others suffer from the long arm of the law. it’s not who you know it’s who you blow! just like LPD Jackson theft in office and walk scott free

  • LAB1660

    The credit card was issued in HER name? It should have been in the name of the city of Avon Lake, period, end of it, like the credit card for the firm for which I work. I have limited use of that card for filing fees. I have to produce a receipt every time I file a document and turn that in as soon as it is available. Never should that card have been in her name. She obviously has a problem being trusted.