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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Trustee removed from office for first time in Indiana history, officials say"

Kara Kenney of WRTV 6 is reporting this morning in a story that begins:

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - For what appears to be the first time in Indiana history, a judge has removed a public official from office for failing to do her job.

Ashland Township Trustee Sandra Norman admitted Wednesday she failed to file annual reports as required by law.

The court accepted her admission and issued an order removing her from office.

Norman's removal from office comes after efforts from Paul Joyce, deputy examiner from the State Board of Accounts, and County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega, to hold public officials more accountable for how they spend tax dollars .

"I give Steve Sonnega a lot of credit for following through with this and holding this public official accountable," Paul Joyce told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney Thursday. "I think it creates a good blue print for other prosecutors to follow for public officials who aren't doing the job they're elected to do."

Under Indiana law, a public official who fails to keep financial books can be removed from office.

However, Joyce said this is the first time it's actually happened since the law went into effect in 1909.

Last year, the Call 6 Investigators found two thirds of public officials accused of misusing tax dollars are never criminally prosecuted and many keep their jobs even after facing criminal charges.

Kenney's story links to a one-page order by Judge Thomas Gray, Morgan Superior Court 1, ordering that Norman forfeit her office, pursuant to IC 5-11-1-10.

The ILB has had several other posts on this story, including this one from July 15th headed "Maybe not so 'one-of-a-kind' after all." It quotes of South Bend Tribune story where the trustee resigns, but that resignation is related to a felony conviction:

A township trustee who used a township ATM card to withdraw taxpayer funds at casinos in Indiana and Michigan will avoid prison but must resign his post.

St. Joseph Circuit Court Judge Michael Gotsch sentenced Olive Township trustee John Michalski, a Democrat, to one year but suspended the sentence, meaning the 72-year-old man will serve his punishment on probation.

The judge also ordered that Michalski resign as a trustee within 30 days. He cannot hold elected office for eight years as well, according to the terms of the sentence.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 31, 2013 11:21 AM
Posted to Indiana Government