This story was updated on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 12:55 p.m. to include additional information about the crime and to clarify when it occurred and when it was reported to the police.

More than $700,000 was stolen from the Granville Recreation District after someone with a fraudulent account gained access to the district’s email in October last year, according to a new report from the Granville Police Department. 

The incident, described as telecommunications fraud, occurred on Dec. 22, though the thief initially attempted to infiltrate the email in early October. The crime was discovered and reported on Jan. 30 this year, GRD Board of Trustees Chairperson Greg Lott said Wednesday. 

According to the police report, someone was able to “enter into an email thread and provide information” for “payment of services rendered. This was a fraudulent account (not the intended recipient) and the funds were wired to it.” 

In total, $713,093.04 was transferred to the fraudulent account. 

That $713,093, Lott said, was from a loan and the funds “were never in the GRD account.”

“Unfortunately, we’ve uncovered that the GRD was the victim of an external financial crime that is currently under investigation,” Granville Rec District Executive Director Andy Wildman announced during the Feb. 1 meeting of the district’s board of trustees, a meeting held before The Reporting Project obtained the police report Tuesday by filing a public records request. 

“As a result of the ongoing investigation, we cannot provide additional comment. We’re working with local, state and federal authorities to assist them in their investigation to ensure a swift resolution,” Wildman said in the Feb. 1 statement.

Lott said there were three parties involved in the incident, though could not name the parties due to the ongoing investigation.

Wildman said he was unable to discuss the crime further when The Reporting Project reached him on Tuesday. Attorney Justin R. Lodge, the fiscal officer for the GRD, declined to comment on Tuesday. 

The Recreation District, which provides recreational and educational opportunities such as youth sports, the well-attended Concerts on the Green, nature camps and driving classes for Granville residents, has an annual budget of about $1.25-1.5 million, Wildman said. 

The GRD offers dozens of activities throughout the year, including youth sports such as wrestling and baseball, art classes, Beyblade clubs and adult soccer leagues. The district also manages McPeek Lodge, Raccoon Valley Park, the Spring Valley Nature Preserve and Wildwood Park. 

In mid-2020, Wildman told The Newark Advocate the district had an operating budget of “somewhere between the $850,000-900,000 range, and it’s about 50/50. We collect about half from user fees and half comes from taxation/subsidization.” 

That budget number went up by approximately $384,525 per year after Granville voters approved a five-year, 0.75 mill operating levy in 2020.

When asked if a $713,000 loss would impact programming, Wildman said Tuesday he “couldn’t speak to that.” 

This type of incident is a first for the district, Wildman said, and the organization has filed paperwork with the FBI related to the investigation.

During the Feb. 1 trustees meeting, the board spent about 35 minutes in executive session to discuss the theft of funds and then made the brief statement about the crime.

Julia Lerner writes for, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s Journalism program, which is sponsored in part by the Mellon Foundation and donations from readers. Sign up for The Reporting Project newsletter here.