COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney Dave Yost announced Thursday his office is investigating the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after two executives allegedly used the zoo's assets for personal reasons.
According to an investigation by the Columbus Dispatch, former CEO Tom Stalf and former chief financial officer Greg Bell — who both resigned Monday — had allowed relatives to live in houses owned or controlled by the zoo. They also gave tickets to their families for zoo events.
“Charity may begin at home for an individual, but it’s trouble when an executive for a charitable organization uses company resources for friends and family,” Yost wrote in a news release. “I’m troubled by both the allegations and the lack of transparency here, and this office will get to the bottom of it.”
The Columbus Zoo is a nonprofit organization that also receives levy funds from Franklin County taxpayers.
The zoo reported it began an internal investigation, and it has already completed the first phase. The investigation out of Yost's office will be carried out by the office’s Charitable Law Section, which "ensures trust in the nonprofit sector through transparency and accountability," according to the press release.
Investigations conducted by the Charitable Law Section are confidential. Ohio Revised Code 109.28 excludes investigations of charitable trusts from public records.
Former Zoo Executive Director and Director Emeritus Jerry Borin is serving as the zoo's interim executive director until replacements are found.