Former Columbus Zoo executives respond to investigation

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Attorneys for two former Columbus Zoo executives are revealing their thoughts about investigations into their clients.

Tom Stalf and Greg Bell stepped down from their respective positions as CEO and CFO amid accusations that the two used the nonprofit’s resources to benefit themselves and their families.

There are two approaches from two legal teams. The allegations are that the two executives hooked their families up with tickets to sporting events, cheap housing, and other perks on the zoo’s dime.

Former Chief Financial Officer Greg Bell’s attorney, Sam Shamansky, told NBC4 Investigates that Bell is cooperating with independent investigators hired by the zoo and that Bell is committed to paying back everything he owes to his former employer.

Shamansky could not give me a dollar amount and said Bell has already repaid some of the money. Shamansky said Bell is taking responsibility for “a mistake.”

“When you make things right, you answer all questions which are put to you in an effort to protect the integrity of the zoo, which is the most important thing to Greg Bell,” Shamansky said.

Former CEO Tom Stalf’s attorneys, Mark Collins and Rex Elliott did not mention taking responsibility in a statement that implied the investigation was unfair.

“Fair investigations do not start with two scapegoats and work backwards to get their desired results. Rather, fair investigations delve deep into each detail to determine the truth. Fair investigations are not based on the number of witnesses interviewed, but rather the actual interviews of first hand witnesses who were involved in the actual transactions. We have evaluated investigatory reports for the past 28 years and it is evident that this report was published under pressure from the media.”

Attorneys Mark Collins and Rex Elliott

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office is looking into possible criminal charges against the former executives. Stalf’s attorneys said they look forward to that investigation and Shamansky said Bell will answer questions that might arise.

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