Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today that the building commissioner for the City of Muncie, Indiana, has been indicted on charges of wire fraud, theft, and money laundering. The arrest is part of a year-long and on-going investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service, into payment for public works projects in Muncie. Craig Nichols, 38, Selma, Indiana, was arrested this morning and had his initial appearance this afternoon at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis.
“Public servants need to serve the public instead of serving themselves,” said Minkler. “When someone betrays the public’s trust by stealing tax dollars for personal enrichment, my office will identify, investigate and, if the evidence supports a charge, prosecute the individual who violates that sacred trust.”
Nichols has served as Muncie’s building commissioner since 2012, exercising authority over permitting, inspections and code enforcement for the city. The indictment alleges that Nichols abused his position of trust by using sham bidding practices and submitting fraudulent invoices to steer work to his companies, and then bill Muncie more than $376,000 for work his company either never performed or performed at inflated prices.
“Seeking out and investigating public officials who exploit their official position for personal gain ranks number one on the FBI’s criminal priorities list and is the sole purpose of the Indiana Public Corruption Task Force,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott. “The indictment and arrest of the City of Muncie Building Commissioner Craig Nichols is one more step in an ongoing investigation which seeks to identify and bring to justice any and all public officials or private citizens who have committed federal crimes and victimized the tax paying citizens of Muncie, Indiana.
“Public officials engaged in personal financial gain with taxpayer funds can never be tolerated,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, James Robnett. “Taxpayers expect government officials to serve their community not steal from them. IRS-Criminal Investigation, together with our law enforcement partners, is committed to investigating these frauds to keep our communities free of corruption.”
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany J. McCormick who is prosecuting this case for the government, Nichols faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment if convicted of all charges.
An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. All parties are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in federal court.