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July 8, 2014

Yauger now facing federal charge

NEW CASTLE — With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.

Federal authorities charged the 56-year-old former director of Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV with taking money from a program that received federal dollars. The case is in U.S. District Court.

The federal investigation got under way last year after IU IV officials and their attorney discovered exorbitant credit card bills that allegedly showed Yauger’s personal purchases on her agency-issued credit card.

A forensic audit of usage of an American Express credit card in Yauger’s possession showed that at least $71,466 of her expenses appeared to have been non-business-related.

Those included numerous visits to restaurants, pharmacy charges and purchases from department stores and other retail outlets.

The audit spanned 2007 through February 2013, while Yauger was the IU IV’s executive director.

The audit was ordered by the IU IV’s board of directors.

Auditors from Hill, Barth and King of Hermitage used receipts and explanations from staff to deduce that of the total $113,755 spent with the credit cards, $42,290 was for business.

The rest was categorized as “questionable or undocumented” and some expenses were on weekends or when Yauger had vacation time or days off.

After board approval of the report, it was sent to the Grove City police, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General and the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Certification Bureau.

In the federal case, authorities said Yauger did not provide travel vouchers or receipts for any of her expenses while she was executive director. The charges contend she stole more than $5,000 in property, meeting the federal court jurisdiction amount.

The IU IV provides educational services to school districts in Lawrence, Mercer and Butler counties.

Yauger, of Grove City, also faces felony charges of theft and access device fraud filed Sept. 16 by Grove City police.

That case, now in Mercer County Common Pleas Court, was continued to the July call of trial, which begins Tuesday, because the pending federal investigation could impact the result in the matter, according to court records.

Yauger resigned her position April 24 last year and signed an agreement saying she would pay restitution to the IU IV in an amount the board determines she owes for all claims arising out of her access to and improper or unauthorized use of its resources, property or funds.

The intermediate unit board has since changed its policies on credit card use.

Attempts Monday afternoon to reach Gene Tempesta, Yauger’s Pittsburgh-based attorney, were unsuccessful.

He had previously said he believes all of her credit card charges were legitimate business expenses and he is tasked with finding the records to prove it.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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