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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - More on "Jasper Circuit Court Judge John Potter on Thursday ordered that Linda Belork be reinstated immediately to her position as Starke County Treasurer"

Updating this ILB entry from Oct. 22nd, Terry Turner of the Gary Post-Tribune has a long story today headed "Judge absolves former Starke County treasurer of wrongdoing." Some quotes:

Jasper Circuit Court Judge John Potter released a judgment late Thursday, which said that Belork was not delinquent in her duties as treasurer.

Further, Potter said she was not properly removed, and no material fact exists that any money was missing.

He ruled that the commissioners have agreed that the money was found, and that the issue resulted from accounting errors in the Auditor’s Office. He ruled the commissioners knew this suit was groundless, since at least Sept. 6, 2011, and yet they continued prosecuting it.

Potter ordered that Belork be reinstated immediately and ordered any injunction or restraining order to be lifted.

At the emergency meeting, the commissioners acknowledged the court order, and said that they “need and desire to comply with the court order (but) without a lack of court comments,” without a bond for Belork.

Also, Potter ruled that Belork is entitled to back pay for the salary she has lost, with 8 percent interest, since August 2011. The amount of money owed to Belork for back pay, benefits and interest will be determined at a hearing. The date for the hearing has not yet been set.

Belork was forced out of her position by the commissioners, in an action which the commissioners said was justified by state statute. Commissioner Dan Bridegroom said he believes the statute still applies.

The commissioners, at the time believed they were under pressureto respond to a State Board of Accounts audit that indicated there was an alleged shortage or misappropiation of funds, of up to $1 million, in the Treasurer’s Office. They also, at the time, sought to have Belork’s bond removed, filing suit against her bond. At the time, Starke County Council president Mark Smith also ordered that all Treasurer’s Office funds be frozen.

Belork’s attorney has argued her reputation been irreparably damaged. She lost a Democratic primary nomination in which she sought to regain her post.

The ILB is hoping to obtain a copy of Judge Potter's ruling.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 24, 2012 09:48 AM
Posted to Indiana Government