COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A judge sentenced a former Licking County employee to four years in prison after his role in a phony invoice scheme uncovered nearly $193,000 in stolen funds.

According to a report issued by the Auditor of the State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Donald Dunston, 59, of Blacklick, pleaded guilty to theft in office, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and three counts of tampering with records, all third-degree felonies.

Dunston was hired by the county as the Building Services Director in December 2012 and was fired in May 2018, after questions arose about his improper use of a county-issued credit card to purchase gasoline for a vehicle the county didn’t own. A subsequent review of Dunston’s purchasing activities revealed numerous questionable transactions.

An investigation uncovered that between September 2015 and May 2018, Dunston, along with William Crawford of Frisco, Texas, and Windy Miller, also of Frisco, were part of a phony invoice scheme that resulted in $192,672.97 in stolen funds. The SIU found that Dunston wrote 109 checks totaling $173,469 to Crawford’s fake janitorial business, Crawford RAWS Janitorial, and six checks totaling $19,203 to Miller’s actual business, ‘Whirl of Windy’, for supplies not received by the county.

Dunston was ordered to make restitution of the entirety of the stolen funds, plus an additional $20,397.50 in audit costs, which have since been paid. He was also sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Crawford pleaded guilty to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft and tampering with records and was sentenced to four years in prison, while Miller was sentenced to 10 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution of $19,203.

Dunston and Crawford were former neighbors in Frisco, Texas and Miller was an acquaintance of Crawford.