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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 18, 2019

Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler Indicted on Corruption-Related Charge

Mayor accepted a $5,000 illegal cash payment

INDIANAPOLIS – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today that the Mayor for the City of Muncie, Indiana has been indicted on a charge of accepting a $5,000 illegal cash payment after he steered lucrative excavation work to a local contractor. The arrest is part of an on-going investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into illegal payments associated with public works projects in Muncie.

"Public officials are entrusted to perform a public service and to legitimately conduct business in the best interest of the community that they represent," said Minkler. "Tyler not only betrayed the trust of his community, but violated federal law, and all in an effort to serve his own personal interests. My office intends to prosecute Tyler to the full extent of the law."

Mayor Dennis Tyler, 76, of Muncie, Indiana, was arrested at his home Monday morning, November 18, 2019, and had his initial appearance that same afternoon in the federal courthouse in Indianapolis. He has served as Muncie’s Mayor since he was elected to that position in 2012. As Mayor, Tyler has authority over supervising subordinate officers, signing bonds, deeds, and contracts of the city, approving licenses issued by the city, and overseeing Muncie’s departments and agencies.

"Public corruption is the top criminal investigative priority for the FBI. It erodes public confidence and undermines the strength of our democracy," said Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall, FBI Indianapolis. "There is a growing intolerance by the American people of public corruption, an intolerance reflected in the willingness to come forward and report abuse of public office. We are always grateful for those who report corruption. That information is critical to our work."

The arrest is part of a multi-year and on-going investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service into the payment of kickbacks in exchange for public works projects and other corruption-related matters in Muncie that have resulted in the following federal cases:

United States v. Craig Nichols, Former Building Commissioner, 17-CR-0021-TWP- DML, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering, sentenced to 24 months in prison.

United States v. Tracy Barton, Former Superintendent of Sewer Maintenance, 18-CR- 284-JMS-DLP, set for jury trial on April 3, 2020.

United States v. Jeff Burke, Local Business Man, 18-CR-285-SEB-DLP, set for jury trial on Oct. 28, 2020.

United States v. Rodney Barber, Local Contractor, 19-CR-190-JMS-DML, set for jury trial on March 13, 2020.

United States v. Debra Nicole Grigsby and Tony Franklin, District Administrator of Muncie Sanitary District and Local Contractor, 19-CR-231-JRS-DLP, set for jury trial Feb. 10, 2020.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who is prosecuting this case for the government, Tyler faces up to 10 years’ in federal prison if convicted of the charge.

An Indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is 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.

Updated November 18, 2019