Fired Sandusky worker asks commissioners to help clear his name

City manager Nicole Ard fired a department head for allegedly deceiving colleagues and showing dishonesty when buying sand from his brother’s company.
Andy Ouriel
Feb 13, 2013


But Scott Miller, a 21-year city employee with a flawless work history, contends Ard axed him for one honest mistake totaling $900.

Now Miller — the former general services superintendent previously supervising streets, parks and recreation — said he might be forced to file a lawsuit against the city to reclaim his job.

“The allegations are not supported by any verifiable facts,” Miller wrote in a letter to city commissioners delivered to them Monday just prior to a commission meeting.

“I never attempted to deceive anyone or act dishonestly or even inappropriately at any time.”

In mid-January Ard called upon police officers to escort Miller from his office. She placed him on administrative leave after learning he purchased sand from his brother’s company, Monroeville-based Miller Farms and Trucking.

See PDFs related to the investigation and Miller's plea for help below.

For more on this story, pick a copy of Wednesday's Register.




very interesting reading! i say take it to judge judy!!!! really though, it will be intersting to follow this through and hopefully the SR will publish just the facts and not their "spin".

The Answer Person

The first (?) nail in Ard's coffin...?


Nope, one of the good old boys just found out what will happen if they get caught, I think. Not fun for them. Not nails for her. More like nails in their coffins.

fanatic's picture

Now he knows what it feels like to be fired by City government.


And when will Ard be fired for her dishonesty? As previously stated she prematurely posted half of his departments to a City Engineer job that was posted BEFORE this sand issue ever existed. She trumped up these allegations attacking his character so that she could look good since she is failing at her job. This is an even bigger fail of hers. She cost the city more money in these last three weeks having him on leave over a clerical error and will cost us taxpayers even more over a lawsuit for something so much smaller than real issues at hand.She is making Sandusky look like a joke.


Did the cops investigating this make him look bad too? Did you read the officers reports or are you just going on what you think of her? I read the entire report. I suggest you read it before saying anything else.

I don't think she made him look bad, he did a pretty good job of that all on his own. And I don't think the cops were in it with her either.


Her report and the police report have descrepancies. She states things that are opposite of what the police state. Isn't this why a police officer is currently getting his job back? Because she terminated him with with false documetation in the termination? Here goes another one.


It doesn't appear that her statements and the police report are different at all when I read them here. Falsification of documentation is falsification no matter how you slice it. She even gave him a second chance to correct his statements and bring her proof of what was going on. Instead he tried to circumvent her by presenting the things through different channels than to her. No, if I had been in her shoes he would be out too. You don't lie on reports. Not if you want to keep your job. He screwed up and got caught. She isn't to blame here, he is.

BW1's picture

The "report" is rambling jumble of semi-literate, incoherent fragments. It doesn't constitute a sound basis for any conclusion. I wouldn't allow a seventh grader to turn in written work like that.


When an city employee does business with family, it better be documented somewhere in his personnel file. He/she should also have it be publically known for all to hear and see.

In this case, it is pretty clear that Scott Miller falsified documents, changed bids and was hiding something to do everything he could to hide what should have been public knowledge. NEVER, EVER LIE TO THE BOSS. Not if you want to get caught. Telling Ard the truth should have been the best thing this guy could have done, he wouldn't be getting the axe.

Sending a letter to the commissioners won't help, either. Not if he wanted to get his job back. They can't help him. He got caught, pure, plain and simple. When you have vendors from town that are lessor moneies (having read that entire investigation report) and you "guess" instead of write down the REAL thing, you only look stupid in the end.

Sorry, folks. When you roll the dice, this is what happens. You cannot take 21 years of cheating and expect to say "hey, look, I did this all along, why now?". You got caught, the city manager and her girls caught you. Too bad. Start looking around for another job. Perhaps your brother can help find you one. This one looks good and gone to me.


Ard happened to catch this where the previous City Manager completely missed what was going on. Lack of proper procedures are lacking at City Hall. Who is responsbile for signing documents and what is the procedure? Miller admits he did wrong and he still doesn't recognize that it was improper. The evidence is stacked against Miller after reading the evidence. I can't believe the paper is taking Miller's side in all this. The checks and balances are not working and need to be reviewed as to who should be authorized to sign off on documents.


Exactly right. To say nothing of falsifying documents, and other sundry problems. This was bound to happen. I will give her credit.

It isn't so much that the SR is leaning toward HIM they are criticizing HER. They think she is wrong. That is the difference. Except she isn't wrong this time. That is what is amazing about this entire thing. She isn't wrong.


Let's talk about dishonesty. As you can see below, the City Manager, attempting to take the heat off herself, flamboozled the Commission into approving an expenditure to a former City Commissioner--a violation of Ohio Ethics and City Law. The amount was under $10,000 so Commission approval was not needed.


Nicole Ard asked the commission to consider making payment to Brady Electric in the amount of $6,900 for design work for the Cedar Point waterways/navigational sign.

Upon motion of Julie Farrar and second of Pervis Brown, the commission voted to authorize the city manager to make payment to Brady Electric in the amount of $6,900 for design work for the navigational sign.
Discussion: Wesley Poole asked the limits for expenditures requiring city commission approval. Nicole Ard said given the nature of this item, she would like some direction from the city commission.


How is that dishonest? She asked for directon for the city commission about this. He was no longer a city commissioner and his company did work for the city. So what is the problem? She asked them to CONSIDER making the payment, she brought it up to the commissioners and asked them about making the payment. What is so dishonest about this matter? Are you looking for reasons to make her look bad and you cannot find anything else or is this the best you can do?

I would think that people would be more impressed that she asked and that the commission DISCUSSED it before anything. So explain how this is dishonest if you can even do so?


Wiredmama222 lets put on our thinking caps here.

The City Manager has been on the job for over a year. Do you recall any-other time she has come to the City Commission with a request to spend under $10,000 (see Charter). If you answer any way besides no you would be wrong.

Obviously she was attempting to deceive the City Commission by placing the expenditure on the Commission's shoulders clearing her of any Ohio Ethics and Charter violations. Need verification? I let you do your own research.

The Commissioner in question threatened to sue the City---he got paid--and several weeks later gave the money to charity to take Ethics heat off him.


@paved....only someone with an axe to grind against her would try and justify THIS as anything remotely as being wrong.

She ASKED the commission about it. SO WHAT???? You say it is Ethically wrong.

Then you must blame the ENTIRE COMMISSION, should you not???? They ok'd it. Is that not true?

So why single her out??????? Because you and your counterparts want her gone and you will try anything to get her gone.

So please do not try and use trumped up things such as this to play that game with me. It will not work. Unless you are prepared to blame the ENTIRE commission along with her, which you will have to do, then you are out of gas.

Nice try though.


I say tomato you say tomayto. I say potato you say potayto.

I have to think the next time the City Manager comes to the Commission for approval of an expenditure of under $10,000 they will ask more questions or vote no.


Okay, Wiredmama, I read the paperwork, too. And here's what I'M getting out of it: Somebody is lying. Whether it's Ard or Miller remains to be seen, but since there's an argument about it, it seems entirely proper to involve the Commission here.

The various claims and accusations should be simple enough to prove. Ard says the police say one thing, Miller another. So talk to the investigator! Miller says the City's been buying sand from his brother since long before he could authorize such a purchase. That'll be in the records, too.

I'm sorry, but Miller's explanations for the "falsified" documents are pretty plausible (in fairness to those here who are jumping on Miller, when all I'd read was the Ard letter, I was prepared to jump on his case, too!). Again, it's a question here of what's true and what isn't.

When the Commission finds out who lied, that person should be fired. And I double down on that if it's Ard! Meanwhile, if there's a decent lawyer who will take the Miller case, that's just another bit of evidence that perhaps Ard DID jump the gun and is now trying to cover her own tracks. Either way, the City stands to lose money over this one, but I'd rather it lose an employee no matter WHO it is than lose another big lawsuit, wouldn't you?


I am talking about what the police found out. Who changed all those figures that came in from those bids? It sure was not Ard! It seems that it must be either Miller or his second in command. That is falisification right there. It's pretty obvious from the report by the police investigator that someone from that department played fast and loose with the bids and changed them to make it look as those his brother's firm was the low bid. Next, he has been there for 21 years. How long has the city been doing business with his brother? I would love to know if it is longer than 21 years or if it has just been since he has been in charge? But either way, he still should have told SOMEONE he was going to have a conflict of interest or a problem....all this could have been avoided.

Let me remind you that it was someone else who brought this to Ms Ard's attention. Which means that Ms Ard did not find this out alone. She was told about it by two others who caught the mistake and told her about it. Nice catch by the way. Someone was doing their job down there for a change.

Next, it seems that falsification of paperwork doesn't mean much to some people, but to others it means a great deal. If there was nothing to hide, why didn't he just sign the documents and be done with it instead of trying to "hide" something? It would never have drawn such a mess as this. Then, when given the chance (a second chance, I might add) to make up for all of it, did he chose to go around Ms Ard and as she put it, "circumvent her authority" and try and pull a fast one on her?

After that sort of thing, I don't blame her for letting him go. How many chances does this guy get before lowering the boom on him? I don't see where any lies on her part come in. I do, however see a man who got caught with his knickers bunched and now he is crying to his councilmen and women in hopes of getting out of the mess he created for himself. I think that wrong and in many ways disingenous.

Ms Ard may have made many mistakes so far in her tenure as City Manager but I don't think this is one of them. If she lied about anything, I would love to know where anyone thinks that is. I just plain don't see it after reading what the police investigation said and what her letter said. After reading HIS letter it is pretty self-serving.

I do have one question. Why isn't Straub being fired as well. He is just as guilty as Miller is as far as I am concerned.

Please tell me where I am wrong about Miller?


Miller should have been replimanded, not terminated. The amount of money involved is small. City hall wastes much more money everyday.


@trafficman....when you are dealing with this kind of problem, termination is the ONLY solution. You do not reprimand, you do not caution, you do not give second chances. My question many other things or times has this man done things that are similar in nature in the 21 years he has been there that DIDN'T get caught? No, she did the right thing.

BW1's picture

"Who changed all those figures that came in from those bids?"

Possibly no one. There are formal faxed quotes, and forms filled out based on recollections of casual phone conversations. I've called Huron Cement, tossed around some estimated amounts, and gotten one loose figure, then subsequently sat down with them in their office with paper and calculators and gotten a more formal quote that was different.

I see no reason why Miller should be expected to produce written work that is any more coherent and organized than the investigation report.


Now here is an interesting question.

If this has been going on for 4 years, the year Mr. Miller was promoted, someone in the upper tier had to know? Enter page 4 of Ards termination paper which reads::

" you should have indicated you were considering a purchase from your family and should have sought council from me (Ard) or the Law Director. In fact, Law Director and former Interim City Manager Don Icsman indicated he was not aware that these purchases had occured (sound familiar)
......however all purchase orders require two parties to sign them (purchase orders) the City Manager and Finance Director".

Did Ard stumble upon this on her own, or did a disgruntled subordinate of Miller's turn states evidence on him? I'd say the latter.


Had you read he entire police investigation report you would have found it to be one of the ladies in the office who found it. Not a subordinate.


Wrong again WiredMama222---Put your glasses on and read the first paragraph of "Initial Incident".

Miller was promoted in 2008 and no-one caught this? The Finance Director and the City Manager, including Interim City Manager, had to sign in pevious years. Everything points to someone bringing this to Ards attention prior to her preparing to sign the bill.


You really need to read the ENTIRE thing...not what you want to read but the ENTIRE 14 pages. Yes, two others brought this to her attention. SOOOOOO WHAT? That is their job. What the heck is the difference. That means that EVERYONE down at city hall is doing their job. GEEZE, you guys are getting desperate or what?


I can't help think there has been a whistleblower in on this whole thing. Some of the employees if not all of them knew about the vendor's relationship but no one stepped forward to say anything and it went on for years? Scott even admitted to Straub there was a conflict and Straub never reported any of this? As for Icsman, he always claims he is unaware of things and he was city manager at the time. Where is the Finance Director in all this?


"I can't help think there has been a whistleblower in on this whole thing."

Really Darkhorse? Do you know what happens to whistle blowers in corrupt Erie County, Ohio? They get killed and their demise is ruled a suicide. Or of the more intense whistle blowers (Google Elsebeth Baumgartner), they get thrown into prison.

What do you want to know about whistle blowers in corrupt Ohio or in other states, Darkhorse? I can provide a lot of information. I have been there and done that.

Truth or Fiction

Did Mr. Miller work for the City Manager or for the City Commission?


I drove down by the lake today. Its still not on fire. So Cleveland is still ahead of us.


lmao...(silently, so as not to wake the dog and cat)

Julie R.

Isn't this sort of similar ~ albeit a lesser degree ~ to what went on in Cuyahoga County? As for Ard --- I'm sure she consulted the law director before the firing, so if this was a vendetta why is she getting all the blame for it?


Julie, this is what happens when some people want to get rid of you. They want her out and no matter what she does: good or bad, she is getting crucified for it. She is right about this and they will make her the bad guy no matter what. Just like the third floor people. Get it???? LOL

He did wrong, but she will suffer the slings and arrows for it. Just another day in the life of lets get rid of Nicole Ard.

T. A. Schwanger

Indeed there are several unanswered guestions and discrepancies in the documents.

Here's a couple:

Cell phone usage--do cell phone bills and indications of over-usage come directly to the employee assigned to the particular phone or does the Finance Department monitor individual usage? If it's the latter, and Miller was not billed or notified, how can he be penalized? In addition, it appears the cell phone issue was added to the charge after the initial meeting between Mr. Miller, the City Manager and City Manager--hence trumped up charges.

Handing price quotes to Finance Department instead of City Manager---Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see where the City Manager specified Miller hand the "price quotes" to her so human nature would be to hand the new documents to the person holding the original bill in this case the Finance Department.

In the employment world we have two words for this senario--- nit picking and a witch hunt.

If you feel strongly about your innocence, don't rely on majority support from the City Commission Mr. Miller. Get a good Attorney


Mr Schwanger, If you read the letter, you will find that he was INSTRUCTED to bring that information to Ms Ard. He chose not to. When you fragrantly disrespect your boss, expect to get nailed for it. Secondly, he had a cell phone that belonged to the City of Sandusky. Nit picking or not, that is my tax dollars he is spending. I would like to see them repaid as he is no longer an employee of this city.

His dismissal is not an error by any stretch of the imagination. Having been a "boss" had ANY of my employees EVER falsified a document of any kind, it would only take once and they would have been gone. Granted, it was in the medical field, but falsification is like "cheating", and as dishonest as it comes. You simply do not do it. In 38 years of work, never ONCE did I do any sort of falsification of any document that went through my hands.

Now I realize that his work isn't life or death, but he has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of this city. When you breach that duty, you should realize that you have made a fatal mistake. Obviously he knew it, or he would not have gone to such great lenghts to hide it.

I feel Ms Ard made the right call. He obviously knew he was wrong. If it was wrong once, how many other things has he done. Its like lying. If someone lies ONCE, how many other lies have they told. You and I both know that if someone lies to you, you will always wonder if they are telling you the truth this time?

So it is best if he goes. Doctoring bids, changing forms and making sure his brother got that deal, when city companies were lower bidders really makes me mad.

As a citizen of Sandusky, I really do not appreciate his attitude, his lying or his doctoring of paperwork. I just wonder what else he has been doing in 21 years?

I am not unhappy that Ms Ard saw fit to fire him after this was brought to her attention. It proves that the people down there at City Hall are working together. Good job.


I have to think if Mr. Miller was covered under the Union contract he could easily get out of this issue based on no previous incidents plus the City Manager adding items beyond the original disciplinary meeting.

T. A. Schwanger


I'm still missing where the City Manager specifically asked Miller to provide the quotes directly to her. Can you highlight and copy her dialog to this post?

Also, the point regarding the cell pone usage is that issue was not part of the original meeting charge and was added after the fact. Your experience in management should tell you adding items non-relevent to the original charge could be challenged as trumped up.

BW1's picture

It's pretty clear that wiredmama is head over heels for Ard, who she has said should have the powers of a dictator.


Sounds like Mr Miller could use the help of the NAACP to help him in his fight these charges. I bet they would agree that there is a racial motivation to his firing. (Sarcasm)


My guess is that Miller already signed away his right to sue when the city stated they would not bring any criminal charges against him. Mr Schwanger did make a point on the phone billing. Usually the billing is checked every month and then back bill the employee for anything over and above. A warning should have been given to him at the time of billing about his usage and the consequences if he exceeded the limit again. The billing should have been brought to the attention of Miller's supervisor which was Ard. At one time, maintenance used to be under Engineering but somehow got switched over to the City Manager.

fanatic's picture

Mr. Schwanger, you need to look at the big picture here. Again, in the history of some very fine former employees that got the axe at City Hall, once that can of worms is open, it doesn't matter how good or honest the employee is, there are no second chances. Apologies and begging will not work. This has been going on for years and will continue until there is truly some structured management in our city government. Who is really in charge of the employees and who do they report to? Figure that one out.

T. A. Schwanger



I've read and re-read the investigative report, and my now revised opinion, again, just my opinion, is Mr. Miller knew full well he was violating policy and being unethical in his actions, but was smart enough to answer questions with "I don't know" or that he had Arthur Straub sign on the forms in order for Mr. Miller to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. In my company, we have a yearly ethics web-based course we are required to complete. Every year. And the ethics issue of giving business to a family member or close associate is well covered in the course, so if I would have done what Mr. Miller did I would have been subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Given all this, and even with Mr. Miller being "a 21-year city employee with a flawless work history", despite that flawless history, in my company Mr. Miller would most likely have been terminated.

This may be a stupid question, but . . . does the city of Sandusky provide ethics training classes to their employees?

Mr. Miller has been successfully steering work to his brother's company for quite some time, and the success reinforcement was only strengthened each and every time he was able to do so, thereby further emboldening him to continue in this ethical violation. As a superintendent, he should have been well aware of the written policy concerning providing work to family members. Even though he didn't admit in any of his answers in the written investigation he knowingly and willingly violated policy, I wonder how he would have answered had the investigator simply asked, "Mr. Miller, are you aware of and knowledgeable about the documented policy regarding awarding work to family members? If you are aware and knowledgeable, do you admit to knowingly and willingly violating that policy?" Tougher, more direct questions should have been asked. But they weren't, and this allowed Mr. Miller to not directly implicate himself.


Mr. Miller needs to move on. No attorney is going to take his case. Miller has already admitted wrong doing. Some people may have it in for Ard, but she did the right thing. Ard needs to depend on the people employed under her management. She is only as good as the people that serve under her. Ard cannot be babysitting department heads who get paid big bucks to manage their departments. Lets face it, she doesn't have time to be looking over her shoulder. It is crucial that management have the best team that can be trusted to do the job correctly and can be trusted to follow through, anything less then that reflects on her management.

Julie R.

I'm not saying this guy did not deserve to be fired but when you look at the whole picture it's disgusting. He gets fired over $900.00 ....... yet a county public official got away without paying $200K in back taxes. Add on all the rest of the dishonest and illegal crap that goes on at that corrupt Erie County courthouse that they have been getting away with for YEARS ...... those jokes must be laughing at this latest one.

Truth or Fiction

So the City is now left with NO General Services Administrator, NO City Engineer, NO Economic Development Director, an interim Police Chief, etc. No wander the budget got balanced.


Good point. The old shell game and smoke and mirrors


You are right Truth or Fiction. A savings of $70,000 will go towards hiring a Engineer and Police Chief who will ask for a tremendous amount of money to be hired. The Police Chief and Engineer will both have contracts with all the perks and a big salary to go with it. It is a shell game,robbing Peter to pay Paul. You can only apply this theory so long and then it catches up with you. Just like the private sector did, eliminate the middle management.

Pastor Ron

Fire Miller over the $900 in dispute while still paying Iscman to do the City Manager Job? Ard has been in place over a year and Iscman is still getting paid as if he is doing the job. The pay increase was supposed to be temporary.

Just Sayin IMHO

I dont know if I would call them trumped up charges (tsk tsk, SR), but I do not believe it warranted being fired. I would have to look at his work history, which appears to be a pretty good one, according to SR, but I would have to see for myself....