Former TU bookstore manager found guilty

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Charles B. Lutz (right) sits next to his attorney, Dean Henry, during a hearing in Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Kelbley’s courtroom Tuesday afternoon.

The former manager of Tiffin University’s bookstore who had been accused of thefts from the university totaling more than $216,000 was found guilty of a charge by Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Kelbley Tuesday afternoon.

Charles B. Lutz, 56, of Tiffin, had been indicted by a Seneca County grand jury on two counts of aggravated theft, both third-degree felonies, and four counts of grand theft, all fourth-degree felonies, according to Seneca County Clerk of Courts records.

He entered a plea of no contest to one count of grand theft, a fourth-degree felony, and was found guilty by Kelbley Tuesday. The other charges are being dismissed.

Kelbley sentenced Lutz to five years of community control and prohibited him from having any contact with TU.

Lutz agreed to pay restitution of $50,000 in five annual installments of $10,000, with the first due Feb. 1. He also agreed to forfeit $12,586, which does not count toward the restitution, to TU.

Micah Ault, special prosecuting attorney, said officials identified a loss of $216,207.13.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Ault said that in February 2015 it was discovered Lutz was selling books belonging to the bookstore and having checks issued to him. Lutz was accused of cashing $120,534.96 worth of checks from books and keeping the funds from January 2011 to March 2015.

Lutz also was accused of taking money from the register for personal use.

Lutz was found guilty Tuesday of making unauthorized credit card purchases of $36,226.92 for items such as computers, cameras, speakers, clothing, headphones and other appliances from December 2010 through March 2015.

David Claus, TU’s attorney, said Lutz was the manager of the bookstore for more than 20 years. Lutz was trusted and thought to be a valued employee during that time, Claus said.

TU was alerted by the bank of possible theft of university property and funds, Claus said.

“That’s what brought on these charges,” he said.

Claus said officials believed local jail time would be warranted because of the large sum of money involved and because of Lutz breaching trust TU had instilled in him for more than 20 years.

Kelbley declined to sentence Lutz to time in jail.

A Tiffin University spokeswoman had said Lutz was fired immediately when the allegations were brought to the university’s attention.

Lutz declined to speak before sentencing.

His attorney, Dean Henry, said he had taken responsibility for the credit card purchases. Lutz is gainfully self-employed and doing well, and jail time would impede that, he said.