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Suspect in meetNKY embezzlement case caught in the Bahamas, awaits extradition in Miami

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

A suspect has been arrested in the Bahamas in the meetNKY/Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitor’s Bureau embezzlement case.

Tasher (photo courtesy of Miami/Dade County corrections).

Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders said the suspect is Keith Orlando Tasher, 42, of Brooklyn, New York, and that he was apprehended last week.

 In a statement, Sanders confirmed that Tasher, the owner of three Simple Wireless NYC Inc. stores in New York City, was arrested in the Bahamas and is awaiting extradition.

Bridget Johnson, former director of finance for meetNKY/Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau (the CVB), was arrested in November for her role in the embezzlement and misappropriation of more than $4 million in funds from meetNKY.

A Kenton County Grand Jury indicted Johnson in January on charges of theft by unlawful taking of more than $1 million, unlawful access to a computer, and abuse of the public trust of more than $100,000.

She was expected to appear in Kenton County Circuit Court today to face the charges against her, but her trial will now be rescheduled.

“The Johnson trial is on the docket Monday to reschedule the trial date because a co-defendant has been arrested,” Sanders said in the statement. “Keith Orlando Tasher was arrested in the Bahamas on the attached warrant and extradited back to the United States. He is currently incarcerated in Miami, FL pending extradition back to Kenton County.”


Investigators previously identified Tasher as a suspect in February and issued an arrest warrant, but were not able to track him down until last week.

The complaint indicates Tasher received 13 checks drawn on the account of the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau (NKYCVB) totaling $1,125,000. It also states Johnson sent Tasher all 13 checks.

It states Tasher was complicit to the offense of Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition all others $1,000,000 or more. The complaint also indicates that Johnson stated she has never met Tasher and there was no lawful reason for Tasher to receive NKYCVB funds.

Tasher and his businesses were not vendors and did not provide any services to the NKYCVB. According to the complaint, Johnson stated she sent the stolen funds to Tasher so he could transfer the funds to another conspirator. 

The complaint warrant issued against Tasher in February, which spells out his alleged role in the embezzlement of meetNKY funds (click to enlarge).

Tasher’s bank statements were obtained and indicate he deposited the NKYCVB checks into his account. Of the $1,125,000 Tasher received from Johnson, he kept $409,298.16 and used wire transfers to send the remaining funds to accounts in China.

meetNKY officials say they will not comment while the investigation is ongoing. The organization’s President Eric Summe, however, issued a statement outlining changes made in internal procedures as a result of the embezzlement.

“meetNKY has taken several important steps and made significant changes in internal procedures and operations. Under the direction of counsel, we have recently completed a special forensic audit of our finance operations and are in the process of implementing new procedures, policies and protections to ensure that we have a safe and secure system of financial transactions and reporting.

“In addition, we have retained a new auditor who has undertaken a review of our 2018 finances and we have engaged counsel to strategically examine and pursue all revenues of recovery of the embezzled funds.”

What is not clear in the complaint warrant is what happened to the remainder of the missing funds. Previous reports indicated the amount misappropriated was in excess of $3 million, but the complaint sets the amount at more than $4 million.

Investigators have previously indicated that they believe there was more than one alleged co-conspirator working with Johnson in the United States, but have not publicly identified any other suspects.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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