Skip to main content
Press Release

Longtime treasurer pleads guilty to stealing nearly $1 million in campaign funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Columbus man who served as a campaign treasurer for more than 100 candidates since the 1980s pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud related to stealing nearly $1 million in campaign funds.

William Curlis, 76, was charged by a bill of information in April 2024. He pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud.

According to the court documents, from 2008 until June 2023, Curlis defrauded candidates of approximately $995,231 of campaign funds.

As part of his plea, Curlis admitted that he wrote checks from the bank accounts of certain candidates and one PAC to himself for personal use. The defendant transferred funds between campaign accounts without candidates’ knowledge to conceal the deficit he created.

For example, from 2000 to 2023, Curlis was the primary signatory on at least 111 bank accounts, and of those, he was the only signatory on 108 accounts.

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

Curlis sold his home in 2016 to cover the cost of campaign expenses, including campaign media costs and account balances, to prevent the discovery of his theft.

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

U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker, FBI Special Agent in Charge Elena Iatarola, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced the guilty plea offered on May 8 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Southern Ohio Public Corruption Task Force, which includes agents and officers from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI), Columbus Division of Police and Ohio Auditor’s Office. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office was also an integral part of the investigation.

Deputy Criminal Chief Jessica W. Knight is representing the United States in this case.

# # #

Updated May 9, 2024

Financial Fraud