A former Orange Township zoning inspector pleaded guilty to a charge of theft in office Monday afternoon in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
Thomas Farahay, 64, of 21 Carriage Drive, Delaware, said Monday that while he was the zoning inspector for Orange Township, he accepted cash payments for signage permits but kept the cash, instead of turning it over to the township.
Farahay said he did this several times over a period of a few years. Prosecutors said the period was between Feb. 1, 2012, and March 1, 2015.
Farahay entered a guilty plea to a charge of theft in office, a fifth-degree felony, and agreed to pay back the money that he pocketed, $320.
Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley accepted his guilty plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for March 16 at 8:30 a.m. Gormley also ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
Gormley said Farahay could be sentenced to a period of probation, a prison sentence of between six months and 12 months, or a fine of up to $2,500.
Court documents indicate that Farahay had paid his restitution to Orange Township Monday afternoon.
This is not Farahay’s first felony charge. In 1991, he was convicted of aggravated drug trafficking in Wood County Common Pleas Court. Bowling Green police said Farahay was involved in trafficking cocaine.
According to Wood County Common Pleas Court, he was sentenced to three years in prison and was ordered to pay a fine by Judge Donald Decessna. He was released in 1994, according to court documents.
Farahay was fired as zoning inspector by Orange Township trustees on June 5, 2015, after an investigation began. At that time, Farahay had worked for the township for about 15 years.
Farahay’s attorney, Keith Boger, said Farahay is now retired.
David Hray, a former employee of the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department, was hired as the new zoning and planning director in Orange Township on Sept. 14, 2015.
Farahay was not indicted by a Delaware County grand jury but was instead charged directly by the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office after he agreed to a bill of information.
Farahay is a former reporter at The Gazette.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.