Thursday, July 29, 2004

Suit against treasurer surprises county

Goering accused of mismanaging estate

By Jennifer Edwards
Enquirer staff writer

Hamilton County officials were surprised by allegations in a lawsuit against longtime county Treasurer Robert Goering accusing him of inept management of a $2.2 million estate that shrank in worth to $62,000.

The accusations will not affect his job running the office that collects and invests about $900 million a year collected mainly from Hamilton County property taxes

He was appointed treasurer in 1991 and elected in 1992. He is up for re-election this fall.

"Rob has never given me any reason to doubt his integrity, and I am not going to change my opinion because of one newspaper article," County Administrator David Krings said. "I found him to be a competent man of integrity. I never had any problem with the way he manages that office."

County Commissioner Phil Heimlich said he stands by Goering.

"This was a private case he was handling, which I know nothing about. I am not going to make any judgment because I know nothing about it. I will say that as our treasurer, he has done an outstanding job," he said.

Commissioner John Dowlin is out of town and could not be reached. Commissioner Todd Portune declined to comment.

The suit, filed in Hamilton County Probate Court on behalf of Elmer Gundrum, 81, who inherited the estate in May 2001 from his sister, says Goering failed to hire an investment adviser to diversity stocks and failed to file state and federal tax returns, resulting in $237,952 in penalties and interest lodged against the estate.

Goering is out of town on vacation. He practices as a private bankruptcy attorney at his family's downtown Cincinnati law firm.

The then-Hamilton County Probate Court judge who appointed Goering in 2001 to oversee the Gundrum estate, Wayne Wilke, also once worked at the Goering family law firm, said current Hamilton County Probate Judge James Cissell.

The Gundrum estate was the first Goering had been appointed to administer. In a deposition in the case, Goering said he had some experience with tax laws, but not estate taxes.

Goering billed the estate $75,000 a year for managing it. By comparison, his county salary is $66,924.

Goering said he believed attorneys for the estate should have filed tax returns, not the administrator.


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