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Columbus Zoo agrees to $143,000 settlement with 2 former officials who misused resources

According to an investigation, Greg Bell and Tracy Murmane were responsible for costing the zoo at least $151,000 in misused resources.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Board of Directors approved a financial settlement with two of the four former officials who lost more than $630,000 by misusing resources.

President and CEO Tom Schmid announced on Wednesday the board agreed to settlements with former CFO Greg Bell and former Director of Purchasing Tracy Murmane.

Last year, the Columbus Dispatch reported Bell, along with former President and CEO Tom Stalf, let family members live in houses controlled by the zoo and got them tickets for entertainment events.

Murmane and former VP of Marketing Pete Fingerhut used their positions "to blatantly ignore established policies and use a system among themselves to utilize Zoo resources for their personal advantage." 

Bell and Murmane will pay back a total of $143,000, according to the zoo.

The zoo said the four former officials actions resulted in the following losses, totaling $631,651:

  • Stalf is responsible for $423,049.00 in losses, plus interest
  • Bell is responsible for $138,889.00 in losses, plus interest
  • Fingerhut is responsible for $56,981.00 in losses, plus interest
  • Murnane is responsible for $12,732.00 in losses, plus interest

In addition, the board gave full authorization to their Chair's Advisory Committee to pursue legal action against Stalf and Fingerhut to get compensation.

Bell and Stalf resigned from their positions last year.

The misuse of funds was part of the reason why the zoo lost its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in October. The zoo appealed the decision, but the AZA denied it in December.

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