Since late March, 21 News has been seeking financial records from Vienna township in an effort to shed light on where $1 million that remains unaccounted for could have been spent.

Specifically, 21 News has asked the Vienna trustees, along with newly-seated fiscal officer Rhonda Root, for the budgets-including wages and overtime- for the township's fire, police and road departments for 2022 and 2023.

The township's former fiscal officer, Linda McCullough, provided the fire department budget for 2023, but left office before fulfilling the rest of the request.

Chairman of the trustees, Phil Pegg, responded to the request claiming the township could not fulfill it, saying that all of those records are in the possession of the Ohio Auditor as a part of their ongoing investigation into the missing funds.

Earlier this year, trustees laid off two police officers and three firefighters after discovering that $1 million had been transferred from the township's money market account to the checking account and then several bills had gone unpaid for months, adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At that time, the matter was referred to the state auditor and the trustees sought to remove McCullough from office ahead of the end of her term. Root took over in April.

The matter took on a greater level of confusion this week when neither the state auditor's office nor trustees have been able to actually provide the requested records.

Marc Kovac, public information officer with the Ohio auditor's office, replied to the request, saying they could not provide the financial records because they are a part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

When pressed further about the legality of withholding the records, Kovac explained that public records law would prohibit the auditor's office from releasing them, but that the township is also in possession of the same records and they would be the ones bound by law to provide them.

When 21 News reached out to trustee Phil Pegg and fiscal officer Rhonda Root with that information, Pegg insisted the records are not in their possession.

"No, the investigators had them. We have receipts from the bins that they took. I'm not being smarth. The last I knew, they had not returned any of the records," Pegg wrote in an email, thread that also included Root.

He added "Rhonda, have they returned any of the records?" to which Root replied "Phil, they have not returned any of the records, but we can see if the request can possibly be filled," promising to have a response by the next day, Friday, April 19.

As of Monday afternoon, no response has been received.

Trustees meet Monday night at 6 p.m. where the township's finances are expected to be discussed, as well as the abrupt resignation last week of Trustee Robert Root, who is related to fiscal officer Rhonda Root.