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Goldsmith Expects Criticism of Negley Plea Bargain

May 15, 1985 GMT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Former state school superintendent Harold H. Negley has agreed to plead guilty to ghost employment and misconduct charges in return for a suspended sentence, a prosecutor says.

Marion County Prosecutor Stephen Goldsmith announced Tuesday that Negley agreed to plead guilty to charges of ghost employment, conspiracy to commit ghost employment and official misconduct in the Department of Education.

As part of the agreement, the prosecutor will recommend a suspended sentence and probation for Negley, who faced up to nine years in prison, Goldsmith said.

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Five other current or former officials of the department were indicted by the grand jury. Goldsmith said two, Raymond A. Slaby and Paul H. Krohne, also have agreed to plead guilty.

Prosecutors contend Negley and his aides used his office to wage his successful 1984 re-election campaign. As part of the campaign, state-paid employees were required to perform political tasks, authorities said.

Goldsmith said Negley’s resignation and his testimony before a grand jury investigating the department figured in the decision to enter the plea agreement.

Negley, 63, a Republican first elected in 1972, took a leave of absence in March as his legal problems mounted. He resigned April 10.

A ghost employment charge carries penalties of up to four years in prison and $10,000 fines. Official misconduct carries maximum penalties of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Reaction to the Negley plea agreement was divided along party lines.

R. Mark Lubbers, press secretary to Republican Gov. Robert D. Orr, said, ″We need now to move forward to select a new superintendent.″

Democratic State Chairman John B. Livengood said the plea agreement leaves ″an awful lot of unanswered questions.″

Livengood said he hopes the investigation of the education department will continue.

Slaby, a former associate school superintendent, will plead guilty as charged to the ghost employment and conspiracy to commit ghost employment, said deputy prosecutor John V. Commons.

″We’re making no recommendation on his case,″ Commons said.

Slaby pleaded guilty in June 1982 to charges of official misconduct and was fined $187, sentenced to a suspended 60-day jail term and placed on six months probation. He admitted accepting $100 from a former employee in the Department of Education to alter the man’s driving records.

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A motion was filed Tuesday to clear the way for Krohne, a top education adviser to Gov. Robert Orr, to plead guilty, Commons said. Details of that agreement have not been formally filed with the court, he added.

Krohne, 37, a deputy superintendent before joining Orr’s staff in January, was indicted on two counts of ghost employment and one of conspiracy to commit ghost employment.

Commons said sentencing hearings would be set by Marion Criminal Court Judge Roy F. Jones within 30 days.

Others indicted in the investigation include:

-Parker B. Eaton, head of the department’s publications department, charged with conspiracy, ghost employment, perjury, obstruction of justice and official misconduct.

-Clifton Bush, a department field auditor charged with conspiracy to commit ghost employment.

-John J. Harter, retired head of the department’s school food division, charged with ghost employment, theft and attempted theft.