LOGAN — Jessica Dicken, a commissioner for Hocking County, submitted her resignation from the Republican Party Executive Committee on Monday night in a letter that Chairman Mike Harris read. There was a vote in August’s Republican meeting to investigate Dicken’s removal from the Committee; the removal will be decided upon Monday night. But since she resigned, there was no need for a vote.
It’s unclear at this point whether Dicken will step down from her position as Commissioner. She was charged with the following on Friday morning, September 22, for alleged transgressions committed while serving as the Hocking County Fair Secretary:
- Fourth-degree theft is a felony.
- Fifth-degree theft is a felony.
- Telecommunications fraud, a crime of the third degree
- Falsifying elections, a fifth-degree felony
- Falsifying elections, a fifth-degree felony
- Money laundering, a crime of the third degree
The first-degree misdemeanor of soliciting or accepting inappropriate compensation
Dicken is innocent unless and until proven guilty, having not been found guilty of any of the accusations. She is not have to step down as Commissioner until after she is found guilty, but many county citizens are calling for her to do so. One such person is Sheri Young, who has been persistent in her efforts to remove Dicken from office for a number of reasons.
Young told Logan-Hocking Times, “I’m glad she resigned; however, I thought it showed a lot about her character when she decided to talk about another Republican who is charged, instead of keeping her letter to what she is accused of doing and her reason for resigning.”
She continued, “I don’t understand how something someone else is accused of negating what she has done in any way.” “I have seen and have proof of the other Republican’s offenses, but I do not have or have seen proof of hers.
“I hope that this is the beginning of her resignation [as Commissioner], but based on what I’ve seen and heard thus far, I don’t think that will happen,” Young remarked.
Young said, “It is important to me for her to resign because I do not believe that someone who has committed money fraud should have any control over the purse strings of this county,” in response to a question about why she is so insistent that Dicken step down from her position as a Hocking County Commissioner.
She said, “I am not asking her to resign because of her charges, and she is not the only elected official I have asked to resign.”
In the 2022 primary, Dicken faced off against Hocking County Commissioner Jeff Dickerson and prevailed with 65.69 percent of the vote. She proceeded to the general election in November and defeated James Kalklosch. She became the youngest woman to hold the office of Hocking County Commissioner in January 2023, a distinction she was proud to have; however, some are doubting her ability to continue in that capacity in light of her most recent indictment.
A press release from the State Auditor’s Office stated, “The Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) launched an investigation after receiving a complaint alleging fraudulent use of the Hocking County Agricultural Society’s credit card,” in response to her indictment on September 22.
“SIU discovered that Dicken had used the agricultural society’s credit cards to make $19,084 in fraudulent expenditures. These purchases included financing Dicken’s 2022 campaign for Hocking County commissioner, paying for a car rental while on a family trip in Florida, and making several other payments.
The Hocking County Common Pleas Court received the indictment on Friday. The date of the arraignment is October 12. For this case, SIU is acting as the special prosecutor.
Logan-Hocking Times discovered several dubious purchases on Dicken’s credit card issued by the Hocking County Ag Society in June after obtaining documents through a public records request. Among these was a $2,215.78, Columbus-based car rental from Enterprise Rent-a-Car, which Dicken referred to as “fraud” when questioned by the Fair Board treasurer during a meeting last year.
On the Ag Society credit card, Dicken had made charges totaling $6,768.49 in June 2022. These charges included the rental car that was purportedly utilized for a trip to Florida to visit her family as well as a $3,460 campaign-related transaction to a nearby firm. These are just a few of the purported credit card purchases Dicken made during his time as the Fair Board secretary.
“Jess was a huge part of the Fair Board for three years, and is innocent until proven guilty; but if she is found guilty, it breaks my heart for the kids and the entire Ag Society and its members,” stated Fair Board President Eddie Ogle in response to a message from Logan-Hocking Times.
“She had direct knowledge of the labor and dedication performed by the Board and the volunteers who so kindly give of their time and finances. Every year, a lot of work and money are needed to run the Fair, and we make a concerted effort to use that money properly,” he continued.
A number of community people have expressed concern about Dicken and have called for her resignation multiple times at a meeting of the Commissioners. Dicken has been the subject of an inquiry by the State Auditor’s Office since June.
On June 8, investigators from the State Auditors Office visited Fair Board Secretary Annika Thomas. They brought requests for bank statements, credit card statements, treasurer’s reports, and meeting minutes from May 2022 to the present. The auditors additionally asked the 2022 fair for vendor contracts.
Logan-Hocking Times was informed by Fair Board Secretary Annika Thomas that “reading all of the charges from the indictment is unsettling.” “Regardless of the result, I will continue to look forward and, with the community’s help, do everything in my power to make sure that Hocking County’s future generations will have a fair and just board to be proud of.”
The Hocking County Clerk of Courts website states that Dicken’s arraignment is set for October 12 at 8:30 a.m.
As of right now, no further details are being disclosed. Any fresh developments will be covered by Logan-Hocking Times as soon as they happen.