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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Federal and state prosecutors join the Indiana State Board of Accounts to hold public officials accountable

15 individuals charged with over $1 million in losses    

PRESS RELEASE

Indianapolis-United States Attorney Josh Minkler announced today a large-scale initiative bringing federal and state corruption-related charges against 15 individuals working in public service and governmental positions. “Operation Public Accountability” partnered the State Board of Accounts with the FBI, Indiana State Police, county sheriffs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and state and local prosecutors filing charges against local fire department officials, school employees and various municipal and county employees from around the state.

“Public officials work for the people not the other way around,” said Minkler. “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 State Board of Accounts is responsible for ensuring financial accountability of state and local governments in their handling and reporting of public funds. This is done by performing periodic financial audits and conducting special investigations based on concerns discovered during regular audits, referrals from law enforcement agencies, reports of misappropriation from local officials, and credible complaints from citizens. In each of the cases highlighted today, the State Board of Accounts collaborated with law enforcement and prosecutors to perform audit procedures to verify misappropriation concerns and assist in gathering evidence to support prosecutions.

Federal cases include:

Kellie Cline, 35, Greenwood, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 44, Portland, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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 total, the State Board of Accounts is civilly charging the individuals listed above for repayment of more than $1 million based on the misappropriations identified in these cases.

“These cases address core local government functions that impact the quality of life for residents of these communities - from public safety to after school activities to utility services – and erode public confidence in those trusted with public funds,” said Grant Mendenhall, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. “These charges also demonstrate the strength of collaboration with our federal, state and local partners to mitigate the problem of corrupt officials across the state and the impact their greed has on their communities.”

“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 Paul Joyce, State Examiner. “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.”

Indiana State Police Supt. Doug Carter said, “To say the least, it’s disheartening when public officials violate the public trust, which is why it is important for the public to know that the FBI, along with the State Board of Accounts and state police detectives worked together building prosecutable cases to hold these public officials accountable for their alleged criminal acts.” Carter concluded, “We appreciate the aggressive manner United States Attorney Minkler has moved forward to prosecute these cases and help restore public faith in their local government officials.”

Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany J. Preston is prosecuting all of the federal cases.

An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to prosecuting large-scale fraud schemes that warrant federal resources and arrest those who abuse their positions of trust. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan 5.3

 

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Updated October 11, 2018