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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 19, 2018

Vigo County School Corporation official sentenced in federal court

Stole more than $110,000 from Vigo County taxpayers

PRESS RELEASE

Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh Minkler announced that a former Vigo County School Corporation official, Franklin V. Fennell, 49, Terre Haute, was sentenced in federal court today. Fennell was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment by U. S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson after a jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts of fraud, bribery and making false statements to federal agents at a jury trial in December, 2017.

 “The citizens of Vigo County deserve better from their public officials,” said Minkler.    “Public service does not mean helping yourself to public funds. When greed becomes more important than serving the public, there are consequences and my office will hold offenders accountable.”

Fennell was the facilities director at the Vigo County School Corporation (VCSC). His duties included the maintenance and service at all VCSC locations and facilities, including schools. Fennell routinely submitted requisitions to the VCSC business office which in turn created purchase orders that were sent to vendors authorizing work. The vendor would then be paid after the work was completed.

From April 2014 through October 2016, Fennell and co-defendant, Frank Shahadey instructed a Terre Haute area businessman to submit false and fraudulent invoices for work performed for the VCSC by either inflating the cost of the work or seeking payment for work that was either not performed, or was done by another business. Once paid by the VCSC based on the false and fraudulent invoices, the businessman kicked back a portion of the ill-gotten gains to Fennell and Shahadey and retained a portion for his personal benefit.

As a result of this fraud scheme, Fennell and Shahadey received kickbacks of more than $110,000.  When confronted by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding this fraudulent scheme, Fennell made various false statements in a futile effort to exculpate himself.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“This sentencing affirms that the FBI has zero tolerance for those who exploit their official position for personal gain,” said Robert Middleton, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. “Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top investigative priorities and our agents remain committed to pursuing those who violate the public’s trust through their greed.”

Fennell’s co-defendant, Frank Shahadey, was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment in October 2017, after pleading guilty to wire fraud and theft charges based on his involvement in this scheme.

According to Assistant United States Attorneys Tiffany Preston and Nick Linder who prosecuted the case, Fennel must also pay restitution in the amount of $110,600. 

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 sentencing demonstrates the office’s firm commitment to detect and prosecute matters involving public corruption, (See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan, Section 5.3)

Updated April 19, 2018