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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Owen County investigation finds wide range of financial irregularities"

That is the headline to this story today in the $$$ Bloomington Herald-Times, reported by Laura Lane. The subhead to the long story is: "Former auditor suspected of credit card misuse, diverting county funds, not paying bills." Some quotes:

Owen County Council member Angie Lawson, suspected of bilking the county of hundreds of thousands of dollars by using county credit cards to purchase everything from liquor to panties to $500 Visa gift cards, touts her experience, credibility and dedication to public service in a biography asking voters to choose her in November’s county clerk election. * * *

Lawson, 56, is being investigated on suspicion of illegal use of county-issued Wal-Mart credit cards. Preliminary Indiana State Police reports indicate Lawson went on shopping sprees often, sometimes spending more than $2,000 in one transaction.

In court documents unsealed Aug. 29 by Monroe Circuit Judge Marc Kellams, an ISP detective alleges Lawson diverted the Wal-Mart bills to a post office box she shared with her husband and daughter, then issued online check payments using electronic signatures without sending the bills through her office and on to the county commissioners for review.

When the payments appeared in county bank statements, there would be check numbers correlating with dollar amounts, but the check recipients are not listed.

Court documents in the case state that there might be as many as 75 county-issued Wal-Mart cards circulating and that Lawson may have given some to family members and friends.

She is also suspected of spending more than $18,000 in county funds for mail-order novelty items purchased from the Oriental Trading Co. and paying with a county check; not paying almost $50,000 in county health insurance premiums; and siphoning thousands from a county account that pays lawyers to represent indigent clients. * * *

Lawson has not been charged with any crimes. Morgan County Deputy Prosecutor Bob Cline, who is overseeing the investigation, has yet to file any criminal charges and would not say when charges might come.

Lawson was terminated from her job as a deputy in the Owen County Auditor’s Office in August after the allegations arose. Her annual salary was $27,860.

She was the Republican precinct committeewoman in Wayne Township 2, where her husband, Larry, was the vice precinct committeeman, but they have resigned in light of the suspicions of financial malfeasance. Lawson also has resigned as treasurer of the Owen County Republican Party.

She has not pulled out of the race for Owen County clerk; she beat incumbent clerk Jeff Brothers in the primary election.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 7, 2014 01:12 PM
Posted to Indiana Government