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Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn speaks about the arrest of Shawn Lawson for serial sexual assault at a press conference at the Athens County Courthouse on Tuesday (Eric Walker | For The Post)

State auditor criticizes Athens prosecutor’s spending

The state auditor has criticized Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn’s spending after a review of the office’s Furtherance of Justice fund.

Auditor Dave Yost “took a trip to the woodshed” to discuss the findings, according to a statement provided by Director of Communications Benjamin Marrison. Because Ohio law gives sheriffs and prosecutors broad discretion in the use of Furtherance of Justice funds, Yost did not find any violation of law.

“In our judgment, the prosecutor did not violate the statute, but he showed poor judgment in some of his decisions,” Marrison said in the statement.

Blackburn told Yost he would “make different decisions going forward,” according to the release.

An investigation into Furtherance of Justice funds by ABC 6 in November 2016 highlighted Blackburn’s office.

ABC reporters obtained records that Blackburn and his staff used the fund to purchase expensive meals while travelling. One meal Blackburn purchased at a steakhouse in Orlando cost $90, and another night he bought $75 in food at Disney. He was in Orlando for a conference at the time.

During a different trip, five members of his office spent nearly $380 at a restaurant.

“It’s part of the travel plan, it’s how we meet people,” Blackburn said to an ABC reporter in November 2016. “We get a lot done. Very proud of my office and we get a lot accomplished.”


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