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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - "Call 6 Investigation: Two-thirds of public officials accused of misusing tax dollars not prosecuted"

Kara Kenney of WRTV6 had this long special report in the 11 PM news last night. A few quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS - A three-month Call 6 investigation revealed public officials accused of misusing and even downright stealing tax dollars often escape criminal charges and prison time.

The results come despite a statewide effort by law enforcement, the State Board of Accounts, the Attorney General's Office and other agencies to crack down on public corruption.

Public employees, such as clerk treasurers, trustees and board members, have misappropriated more than $5 million statewide over the past three years, according to the Attorney General's Office.

The Call 6 Investigators spent months digging into public corruption cases and court records and found that just a third of public employees ever faced criminal charges in missing money cases. * * *

The Call 6 Investigators examined more than 200 public corruption investigations, most from the past three years, and found local prosecutors criminally charged a third of public servants. Of those, only a few served time in prison.

"It’s definitely frustrating," said Deputy State Examiner Paul Joyce, of the State Board of Accounts. "I hear that from our examiners all the time. 'Why did that not go anywhere?’ You know, I really can't answer that question."

Many financial public corruption cases start with the State Board of Accounts, which regularly audits state and local agencies and points out when tax dollars are misappropriated.

"We work hard for our money," Joyce said.

The State Board of Accounts forwards cases to local prosecutors, who have discretion over whether to file criminal charges, and to the Attorney General's Office, which can decide whether to file a civil suit, send demand letters or take other action.

"Not every case is a criminal case," said Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper. "Mismanaging things is not a crime. If we can prove the case, we'll file the case and prosecute it."

Cooper's office did not file criminal charges in any of seven Johnson County public corruption cases examined by the Call 6 Investigators, including a former animal shelter warden who admitted to state auditors she took thousands of dollars.

"The statute of limitations had run out on the case," Cooper said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 13, 2012 08:44 AM
Posted to Indiana Government