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Former central Ohio campaign treasurer pleads guilty to stealing nearly $1 million

Courtroom gavel with scales of justice in the background.
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William Curlis, the Columbus man who served as a campaign treasurer for more than 100 Republican candidates since the 1980s, pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing nearly $1 million in campaign funds.

The U.S Attorney's Office in Columbus said that Curlis pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of wire fraud. Curlis, 76, was charged in April.

Court documents say that from 2008 until June 2023 Curlis defrauded candidates of about $995,231 in campaign funds.

Curlis admitted he wrote checks from bank accounts of candidates and one political action committee to himself for personal use.

He transferred funds between campaign accounts without candidates' knowledge to conceal the deficit he created.

Curlis admitted he wrote at least 179 checks to himself from campaign accounts belonging to 18 different candidates and one PAC.

From 2000 to 2023, Curlis was the primary signatory on at least 111 bank accounts. Of those, he was the only signatory on 108 accounts.

Curlis sold his German Village house in 2016 to cover the cost of campaign expenses.

Wire fraud is a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. As part of his plea, he will pay $995,231 in restitution.