COLUMBUS – The former executive director of the Athens Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) was sentenced to 8-12 years in prison Tuesday after admitting to the theft of more than $2.3 million from the agency.
Jodi K. Rickard also was ordered to pay restitution totaling more than $2.3 million to AMHA after pleading guilty in Athens County Common Pleas Court to two counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, one count of theft in office, one count of aggravated theft of $1.5 million or more, one count of telecommunications fraud, one count of tampering with evidence, and one count of tampering with records.
The Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) launched an investigation after state auditors faced numerous delays in attempting to review AMHA’s financial records. Search warrants were executed at agency facilities in December 2022, with assistance from the Athens Police Department. SIU worked with agents from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General and Athens County Prosecutor Keller J. Blackburn, who handled prosecution of the case.
SIU ultimately determined that more than $2.3 million was taken from agency accounts between January 2008 and December 2022 and used by Rickard for personal expenditures. SIU’s special audit is ongoing.
As part of a plea agreement, Rickard will be eligible for judicial release after serving 5 years of her prison sentence.
Rickard forfeited her solely held bank and retirement accounts and “all tangible fruits of the crime obtained with stolen money.” She and her husband, who was not charged in the case, also forfeited jointly held property and bank accounts.