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August 24, 2011

[caption width="250" caption=" Amato "][/caption]

ANDREW TOBIAS

Staff Writer

A former Delaware Township maintenance worker on Tuesday admitted to stealing taxpayer money to buy himself clothes and other personal articles.

Anthony F. Amato, Jr., 34, of 510 Anna Rose Lane in Westerville, also agreed to testify against his mother, Delaware Township Fiscal Officer Phyllis Amato, who is accused of concealing her son’s expenditures and paying him for full-time work even though he was a part-time employee.

She also overpaid her son $1,214 more than he reported working, according to prosecutors and state auditors who uncovered financial discrepancies within the township.

Anthony Amato used the township credit card given to him by township trustees to buy himself clothes and an online video game service subscription between Nov. 2009 and May 2010. Prosecutors also said he used a $1,000 township check, pre-signed by his mother, to buy himself a laptop computer.

Amato told Judge W. Duncan Whitney on Tuesday that his mother advised him to use the township credit card to buy more office supplies than the township needed. She sometimes had the extra materials, such as printer ink, shipped to her house.

“It seemed odd to me at the time,” Amato said.

When township trustees hired Amato as a part-time employee, he faced a felony crack cocaine possession charge, to which he later pleaded guilty.

Amato pleaded guilty to a single theft count, downgraded from a more-serious theft in office charge and agreed to pay about $4,400 in restitution to the township. Prosecutors in exchange dismissed a chart of misuse of credit cards.

Amato is scheduled to be sentenced at 3:45 p.m. Oct. 3. He faces up to 12 months in prison.

Phyllis Amato, 60, has resisted calls from township trustees to resign, and remains in office. She has denied breaking any laws, and is scheduled to face trial on theft in office and misuse of credit cards charges on Sept. 27.

Amato makes $16,000 a year, and is responsible for all Delaware Township finances. She regularly attends monthly township trustee meetings, said Delaware Township Trustee Roger Van Sickle. Her elected term is not set to expire until the end of 2012, and township trustees have no power to remove her from office, Van Sickle said.

“I don’t think people understand that. I think people think we hired her. But she was elected by the residents of Delaware Township,” Van Sickle said.