U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler has announced charges against 15 former public service and government employees. The defendants are accused of stealing a total of nearly $870,00 from various public sources. The investigation was done in conjunction with the State Board of Accounts, which is seeking repayment of more than $1 million.
Known as "Operation Public Accountability," the State Board of Accounts collaborated with the FBI, Indiana State Police, county sheriffs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and state local prosecutors to perform audits to verify concerns of misappropriations among the defendants.
"Public officials work for the people not the other way around," Minkler said in a news release. "When the trust we give them is shattered and public officials line their pockets with taxpayer dollars, they should expect the scrutiny of state and federal law enforcement. All citizens deserve better from their public officials and this office intends to hold them accountable."
The defendants include:
- Kellie Cline – served as the Extra-Curricular Activity Treasurer at Greenwood Middle School. She is alleged to have stolen approximately $50,000 from the school’s extra-curricular account.
- Sami 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.
- Angela 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 Prosecutors Office.
- Rachel 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 – 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 – 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 and Monica Durrett – 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 – 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 – 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 – served as the former Gary Schools Superintendent, is alleged to have received a $1,256.75 “reimbursement” for funds that she never spent.
- Donald 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.
"In recent years, the Board of Accounts has emphasized the importance of effective internal controls that detect and mitigate fraud risks. The vast majority of local units of government have enhanced their procedures to incorporate stronger internal controls," said State 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."