15 Charged In Statewide Corruption Investigations
Federal and state charges announced by United States Attorney Josh Minkler on Thursday cap a statewide roundup that found 15 individuals accused of misappropriating more than $1 million in public funds.
Those charged included city and county employees, fire department officials and school employees spanning 11 counties since 2014. Five people face federal charges, and 10 face state charges.
In collaboration with the State Board of Accounts, FBI, Indiana State Police, and local law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office presented results from “Operation Public Accountability,” an effort Minkler said he hopes will reassure Hoosiers that there are people fighting for the public trust.
“Our focus was to hold them accountable when they are trusted with taxpayer dollars,” Minkler said at a press conference. “The message to public officials, whether they are in small communities or large ones, is that we are watching. And if you are handling public money, that public money should be used to fund public programs, not to line your own pockets or pay your own bills.”
Several of the individuals racked up between $50,000 and $140,000 in stolen funds.But the largest amount stems from arrests of two former Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank employees charged earlier this year with stealing $400,000. Jacqueline Fitzgerald, 54, and Monica Durrett, 56, currently face state charges filed by the Marion County prosecutor’s office.
Another person on the roundup list, Kelly Cline, 35, served as Greenwood Middle School’s extra-curricular activity treasurer. She was federally charged with stealing $50,000 from the school’s extra-curricular account. That money, Minkler said, could have been used to purchase 450 iPads for students to use.
Other individuals facing federal charges include:
• Sami Dillon, 38, Crawfordsville, ex-clerk/treasurer of Cayuga, in Vermillion County. Alleged to have stolen $44,000 by not depositing utility receipts.
• Clint Madden, 51, Columbus, served as the Wayne Township trustee and the Jonesville Volunteer Rural Fire Department treasurer, in Bartholomew County. Alleged to have misappropriated more than $100,000 from the township and the fire department.
• Mathew Mathis, 47, Columbus, served as the treasurer of the Hope Volunteer Fire Department in Bartholomew County. Alleged to have stolen more than $48,000 from the fire department.
• Norman Burgess, 44, Danville, served as the treasurer of the Wayne Township Fire Department in Hamilton County. Alleged to have stolen $140,000 from the fire department.
Those Facing State Charges:
• Angela White, 44, Indianapolis, served as the ECA treasurer for Robey Elementary School in Wayne Township, in Marion County. Alleged to have stolen $10,000 from the school.
• Rachel Bentz, 44, Portland, served as Jay County Sheriff’s Department jail matron. Alleged to have stolen $9,000 by not depositing inmate trustee receipts.
• Dallas Davis, 56, Russellville, served as the clerk/treasurer for the Town of Russellville. Alleged to have stolen $7,600 by not properly depositing utility receipts.
• David Buzzard, 50, Columbus, served as the trustee for the Rock Creek Township Trustee in Bartholomew County. Alleged to have overpaid himself and his spouse $27,000.
• Nicole DeMunck, 35, Michigan City, served as the AK Smith Center treasurer in the Michigan City School System. Alleged to have stolen $13,000.
• Nichole Lowry, 47, Kewanna, served as the Pulaski County EMS Director. Alleged to have stolen more than $12,000 in training funds.
• Cheryl Pruitt, 50, Gary, served as the former Gary Schools Superintendent. Alleged to have received a $1,256.75 “reimbursement” for funds that she never spent.
• Donald G. Minnick, 64, Gosport, served as an Owen County Commissioner. Improperly sold a vehicle to the county with a loss of $7,500.
All 15 have been arrested and will be civilly charged for repayment of more than $1 million based on the misappropriations, the State Board of Accounts said.
“In recent years, the Board of Accounts has emphasized the importance of effective internal controls that detect and mitigate fraud risks,” said examiner Paul Joyce. “Some officials and employees, however, still take advantage of system gaps and succumb to the temptation to use public funds for personal gain. We take those fraud cases seriously.
“These cases are good illustrations of the importance of our collaboration with law enforcement and prosecutors to hold these individuals accountable for violating the public trust.”