Dog Warden employee charged with theft in office


By Justin Wier

jwier@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

A Mahoning County Dog Warden employee faces accusations he pocketed money people intended to pay in fees.

Richard Tunison, 41, Woodgate Street, is charged with two felony counts of theft in office.

Tunison appeared in Mahoning County Area Court here for arraignment Monday, but he did not enter a plea and bond was not discussed, according to court records.

Tunison is on administrative leave pending the outcome of his case.

Maj. Jeff Allen of the sheriff’s office said investigators have video of Tunison taking fees on two occasions. The thefts totaled less than $100.

But Allen added Tunison’s method made it impossible to determine whether he may have done it before being caught on camera.

In Ohio, a theft of any sum of public funds by a public official is considered a felony.

Dog Warden Dianne Fry alerted the sheriff’s office to the problem.

Fry said she noticed inconsistencies and looked at security camera footage, which led her to contact law enforcement.

At the previous dog pound, which did not have cameras or an electronic software system that tracks transactions, Fry said she would not have caught Tunison.

“That’s what we put all this in for,” Fry said. “So we can do our jobs effectively and be accountable.”

Tunison worked as a veterinary technician and managed the kennel at the dog pound.

He has worked for the dog warden’s office for nearly five years.

Fry said she was surprised to learn of the theft accusation.

“It’s disappointing to find this out about anybody, but especially somebody who is in a position of trust,” Fry said. “He was looked up to, and that’s a shame.”

In a story published in The Vindicator on Sunday, it was mentioned Tunison earned more than $17,000 in overtime in 2017.

Only nine county employees received more in overtime than Tunison.

Fry said at the time Tunison was the county’s only veterinary technician and remained on call nearly 24/7 last year.

He has a preliminary hearing scheduled June 27 in Mahoning County Area Court.

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