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Fourth Columbus Zoo official indicted for helping executives steal nearly $2.3 million

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium entrance sign
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

State officials charged a fourth person in the investigation into former Columbus Zoo and Aquarium executives who allegedly stole millions of dollars.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced in a news release that 65-year-old Tracy Murnane, from Westerville, is charged with six felonies including grand theft, forgery and telecommunications fraud.

Yost said Murnane was a zoo purchasing agent and sold services from his family's business to the zoo. Yost also said Murnane sold cars as a middleman and used zoo funds to buy a car for former CEO Tom Stalf.

Murnane is also accused of using a zoo vendor barter system to book a party bus for a family member’s wedding and filing tax returns for 2019 without accounting for his fraudulent gains.

Murnane was also charged with two misdemeanors for purchasing motor vehicles without titles.

Stalf and two other zoo executives were indicted in September after they were accused of stealing nearly $2.3 million over a 10-year period.

Yost also announced that his office's charitable law section has completed, and will close, its regulatory investigation into the zoo itself and its board.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.