United States Attorney announces arrest of Center Township official
Township Community Business Counselor alleged to have embezzled over $66,000 in Social Security benefits intended for the elderly and disabled
INDIANAPOLIS - Acting United States Attorney, Josh J Minkler announced this morning the arrest of Carmen Batts-Porter, 32, Indianapolis, who was charged by criminal complaint with theft/embezzlement of federal program funds. Batts- Porter serves as the Community Business Counselor for the Center Township Trustees Office, administering Social Security or SSI payments to beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their own payments.
"Stealing from those who are the least capable is a crime we will never look away from,” said Minkler. "If you do not uphold the public trust, our Public Integrity Working Group will find you, investigate you and the U.S. Attorney's Office will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law." Minkler further stated. “This is the second time in six months federal law enforcement has had to police the Center Township Trustee’s Office. It is time for Center Township Government to clean up this mess.”
Batts-Porter worked at the Center Township Trustee’s Office which serves as the Representative Payee (RP) for Social Security benefits. The RP administered SSI payments to beneficiaries and whose main responsibility is to use the SSI benefits to pay for current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary. The Center Township Trustee’s Office manages over $1 million annually for the Social Security Administration.
The criminal complaint alleges that from 2010 to 2014 Batts-Porter embezzled $66,682 in Social Security Administration (SSA) funds which were held in trust for SSA beneficiaries. It is further alleged that she used the embezzled money to pay person credit cards during that period. The funds were discovered to be missing during a routine audit by SSA investigators.
Minkler explained this case was the result of outstanding law enforcement work by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, and the Indiana State Board of Accounts. All three agencies are partners in the U.S. Attorney's Public Integrity Working Group, which was launched in April 2012 with the stated purpose of aggressively investigating allegations of public fraud, waste and abuse by public officials in Indiana. Individuals with information on public corruption are encouraged to contact the U.S. Attorney's Office at (317) 229-2443.
FBI Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott said, ‘“The FBI is committed to investigating individuals that violate the public’s trust.”
SSA OIG, Office of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge William J. Cotter said, “It is unfortunate that, once again, the Public’s confidence in government is shaken by a civil servant lining her pockets with money stolen from some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
According to Senior Litigation Counsel Bradley A. Blackington, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Batts-Porter could be sentenced up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted. She had her initial appearance before a magistrate judge yesterday and was released; no future court date has been set.
A complaint is only charges 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.