COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – The Ohio Office of the Inspector General released a report Friday regarding its investigation of Sgt. Jason D. Edwards, 38, of Kettering.
Edwards is accused of theft from the Ohio Army National Guard. He was indicted Monday by a grand jury in Franklin County, according to Ron O’Brien, the county’s prosecuting attorney.
He is charged with one count of theft in office and one count of tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies.
The comprehensive investigation from the inspector general detailed the alleged crimes as well as multiple interviews from co-workers and superiors of Edwards’.
2 NEWS got its hands on the report and started digging for answers.
Edwards was the military funeral honors coordinator for southern Ohio from September 2013 to July 2014 and was based out of the Southwest Region Ohio Army National Guard Office in Kettering. He reported to the Ohio Army National Guard office in Columbus.
In the spring of 2014, a fellow soldier told investigators that over the period of a week, there were seven funeral missions. Another soldier accounted for their attendance.
Edwards is accused of replacing his name with one of the attendee’s names so that he could claim the reimbursement funds.
According to the indictment from the Franklin County prosecutor:
It is alleged that during that time period, Edwards filed for mileage reimbursement for funeral honors missions for which he did not participate, was not listed on the operations orders, and substituted his name in the place of another full-time soldier.”
The inspector general’s report says in part:
Edwards could not explain how he performed a funeral at 10:00 a.m. in Kettering, Ohio, then travel approximately 94 miles to Lima, Ohio, to observe a funeral at 11:00 a.m. and travel back approximately 94 miles to West Alexandria, Ohio, to perform a funeral at 12:30 p.m. as operation orders and mileage reimbursement claims indicate.”
The indictment says Edwards claimed fraudulent funds on 130 different occasions and claimed $10,852 in reimbursement that he was not entitled.
If convicted, he could face six years in prison.
“We take misconduct very seriously and have the responsibility to fully investigate allegations and handle any findings appropriately. Although strong evidence of fraudulent activity has been identified, we must let the judicial process run its course,” said Major Nicole Ashcroft, USAF.
Edwards is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:00 p.m. on September 16 at the Franklin County Courthouse in Columbus.