U.S. Attorney Announces 15 Officials Charged In Public Corruption Crackdown

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced that 15 people have been charged in a statewide corruption investigation led by the State Board of Accounts along with the FBI, Indiana State Police and several county prosecutors.

Minkler said total losses from the corruption exceed $1 million with the biggest loss in Indianapolis.

Jacqueline Fitzgerald and Monica Durrett, employees of the Indianapolis Local Public Bond Bank are alleged to have stolen approximately $400,000 in a case that is currently pending with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

“The alleged misappropriation does not affect bond proceeds or bond debt service payments, all of which are maintained by outside Trustee banks and are subject to annual audit and disclosure requirements,” read a statement by Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office when the Bond Bank investigation was announced in July.

Charges have also been filed against Kellie Cline, who is alleged to have stolen $50,000 from the extra-curricular fund at the Greenwood Middle School while serving as an activity treasurer.

“As alleged in the indictment, Kellie Cline stole $50,000 from Greenwood School,” said Minkler. “To make that equivalent to you, that $50,000 could have paid for approximately 450 iPads that could have been used for students at that school instead of used to line her pockets.”

The Greenwood Community School Corporation said it uncovered the alleged fraud through its own audit and immediately contacted state officials.

Angela White, who served in a similar position at Robey Elementary School in Wayne Township, was charged with stealing $10,000.

Wayne Township Schools issued the following statement:

“When we discovered inconsistencies in Robey Elementary’s extracurricular account balances, we notified the Indiana State Board of Accounts.  We voluntarily requested an independent audit and cooperated fully with their investigation. We appreciate the work conducted by the SBOA resulting in our ability to recover the money stolen from the Robey Elementary extracurricular accounts.

“Prior to our ability to recover the stolen money, we worked with the school to ensure that none of the student activities funded by the extracurricular account were disrupted. In addition, we have strengthened our internal financial controls throughout the district in an effort to prevent this sort of issue from occurring in the future.”

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office reports White is still being sought on an open arrest warrant.

Minkler also highlighted the cost to taxpayers in Bartholomew and Hamilton Counties as the result of alleged thefts from townships and volunteer fire departments.

“Clint Madden, Mathew Mathis and Norman Burgess collectively from different fire departments stole approximately $288,000 from their various three fire departments. If you think about that amount of money it could’ve been used to completely outfit 40 firefighters with all the gear that they would need to fight fires.”

Additional charges have been lodged against a variety of small government employees across the state.

“They were using these funds to buy mobile concession stands for their own personal use. Rather than contribute to a township assistance fund for people who are truly in need, they were using the funds to buy personal vehicles,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Preston.

Minkler said the statewide charges send a message that authorities will be ever present and vigilant to review suspicious accounting and spending at the local government level, which would also indicate that authorities expect such corruption to be endemic to the system.

“The State Board of Accounts is going around auditing these townships and they’re talking to these boards in a preventative effort to explain to them, ‘Hey, what about having somebody else besides your treasurer getting a copy of these bank statements?’”

Below is a list of all the people facing charges in connection with the crackdown.

Federal cases include:

Kellie Cline, 35, Greenwood: Cline served as the Extra-Curricular Activity (ECA) Treasurer at Greenwood Middle School. She is alleged to have stolen approximately $50,000 from the school’s extra-curricular account.

Sami Dillon, 38, Crawfordsville: Dillon served as the Clerk-Treasurer of Cayuga, in Vermillion County and is alleged to have stolen approximately $44,000 by not depositing utility receipts.

Clint Madden, 51, Columbus: Madden served as the Wayne Township Trustee and the Jonesville Volunteer Rural Fire Department Treasurer, in Bartholomew County. He is alleged to have misappropriated over $100,000 from the township and the fire department.

Mathew Mathis, 47, Columbus: Mathis served as the Treasurer of the Hope Volunteer Fire Department in Bartholomew County and is alleged to have stolen over $48,000 from the fire department.

Norman Burgess, 44, Danville: Burgess served as the Treasurer of the Wayne Township Fire Department in Hamilton County and is alleged to have stolen approximately $140,000 from the fire department.

State cases include:

Angela White, 44, Indianapolis: White served as the ECA Treasurer for Robey Elementary School in Wayne Township, in Marion County. She is alleged to have stolen approximately $10,000 from the school. Charges are pending with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

Rachel Bentz, 44, Portland: Bentz served as the Jay County Sheriff’s Department jail matron. She is alleged to have stolen approximately $9,000 by not depositing inmate trustee receipts. This case is pending with the Jay County Prosecutor’s Office.

Dallas Davis, 56, Russellville: Davis served as the Clerk-Treasurer for the Town of Russellville, and is alleged to have stolen approximately $7,600 by not properly depositing utility receipts. This case is pending with the Putnam County Prosecutor’s Office.

David Buzzard, 50, Columbus: Buzzard served as the trustee for the Rock Creek Township Trustee in Bartholomew County. He is alleged to have overpaid himself and his spouse approximately $27,000. This case is pending in Bartholomew County with a special prosecutor.

Jacqueline Fitzgerald, 54, and Monica Durrett, 56: They both worked at the Indianapolis Local Public Bond Bank and are alleged to have stolen approximately $400,000. This case is pending with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

Nicole DeMunck, 35, Michigan City: DeMunck served as the AK Smith Center Treasurer in the Michigan City School System. She is alleged to have stolen approximately $13,000. This case is pending with the LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office.

Nichole Lowry, 47, Kewanna: Lowry served as the Pulaski County EMS Director. She is alleged to have stolen over $12,000 in training funds. This case is pending with the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office.

Cheryl Pruitt, 50, Gary: Pruitt served as the former Gary Schools Superintendent, is alleged to have received a $1,256.75 “reimbursement” for funds that she never spent.

Donald G. Minnick, 64, Gosport: Minnick served as an Owen County Commissioner. He improperly sold a vehicle to the county with a loss of $7500. He was found guilty in Owen County.

Source : https://fox59.com/2018/10/11/authorities-unveil-details-of-state-wide-public-corruption-investigation/

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