Home News Former Columbus Zoo Official Charged in Alleged $2.29 Million Theft Scandal

Former Columbus Zoo Official Charged in Alleged $2.29 Million Theft Scandal


Columbus, OH – Another former high-ranking official of the Columbus Zoo is facing criminal charges amidst an ongoing investigation into the alleged embezzlement of over $2.29 million, announced Auditor of State Keith Faber on Thursday.

Tracy Murnane, the former Director of Purchasing at the Zoo, has been indicted on multiple felony charges, including grand theft, complicity in theft of a motor vehicle, forgery, telecommunications fraud, and filing false returns. Additionally, misdemeanor charges have been brought against Murnane related to the acquisition of motor vehicles without proper title certificates.

The charges were formally presented in a Bill of Information filed in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, with a plea hearing scheduled for a later date.

The investigation, launched jointly by the Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Attorney General’s Office in April 2021, followed revelations brought to light by a Columbus Dispatch article. Investigators uncovered a pattern of misconduct allegedly carried out by top executives at the Columbus Zoo, involving the misuse of Zoo funds for personal gain. The offenses are said to have occurred between 2011 and 2021.

Former CEO Tom Stalf, former CFO Greg Bell, and former Marketing Director Pete Fingerhut were indicted on multiple criminal charges in September 2023, including aggravated theft, corrupt activities, fraud, money laundering, and bribery.

Delaware County Prosecutor Melissa A. Schiffel appointed the Attorney General’s office to lead the prosecution, with special prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office and SIU overseeing the case.

Bell previously pleaded guilty to several felony charges, including tampering with records, conspiracy to engage in corrupt activity, and aggravated theft.

The latest charges against Murnane involve allegations of selling personal vehicles to the Zoo through intermediaries, using Zoo resources for personal events, and attending special events with tickets purchased by the Zoo.

The investigation into the alleged financial misconduct at the Columbus Zoo continues, with authorities committed to holding accountable those responsible for the misuse of public funds.