CY pictured with various live animals on display at the Union ridge Wildlife Center in 2015.

A former fiscal officer for Vinton Township pleaded not guilty Monday to charges related to the theft of over $287,000 from the township after he was arraigned following an investigation by the state auditor that alleged the money was used by the fiscal officer for his own benefit.

Investigators found that between Jan. 2016 and July 2020, former fiscal officer CY, who had legally changed his name from Cyril Vierstra in 2017, had allegedly used Vinton Township debit and credit cards and issued checks on the township’s bank account for expenditures for his own personal benefit. These included renovations to his home as well as to Union Ridge Wildlife Center, a non-profit wildlife refuge owned by CY, a press release said.

“While these funds may have been used to help his wildlife center, you can’t just run wild with tax payers dollars,” said state auditor Keith Faber. “These actions damaged public trust, disrespected the community and benefited no one but himself.”

Vinton Township on average has a budget of about $250,000 a year, Vinton County Auditor Cindy Waugh said.

The investigation began following a complaint made in 2020 by Waugh. According to Waugh, a township trustee had notified her that a check written by the township had bounced, leading her to file the complaint with the state auditor.

Investigators also uncovered evidence that CY allegedly forged and created false records — “including invoices, billing slips and other purchase and payment documents,” — and also falsified township trustee minutes, “in an effort to disguise the true nature and purpose of various personal expenditures,” a press release said.

CY was indicted on 13 counts, which include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft in office, telecommunications fraud, theft, dereliction of duty and eight counts of tampering with records.

CY was indicted on Friday and arraigned on Monday where he pleaded not guilty. He was released on bond and awaits a pretrial in the Vinton County Court of Common Pleas.

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