Fourth former Columbus Zoo employee charged in fraud investigation

COLUMBUS — A former purchasing agent for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is the latest to be charged in connection to a fraud investigation at the zoo.

Tracy Murnane, 65, of Westerville, was charged Thursday with grand theft, complicity in the commission of an offense, forgery, telecommunications fraud, and filing incomplete, false, and fraudulent tax returns. He is also facing two misdemeanor charges.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Former Ohio zoo executives indicted, accused of misusing over $2M of public funds

With the charges, Murnane became the fourth Columbus Zoo employee to be criminally charged with felony theft-related offenses in connection to the state’s ongoing fraud investigation, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Murnane allegedly sold services from his family’s business to the zoo while working as a zoo purchaser. During his employment at the zoo, he also allegedly sold personal cars using a straw seller and aided former zoo CEO Tom Stalf in using zoo funds to buy a vehicle for Stalf’s personal use.

Court documents also allege that he used a zoo vendor barter system to book a party bus for a family member’s wedding and file tax returns for 2019 without accounting for his fraudulent gains.

In September 2023, three former zoo executives were indicted on charges in connection to allegedly stealing more than $2.29 million in public funds for their benefit.

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