15 local government employees face public corruption charges
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Treasurers for several school districts and fire departments are among 15 public employees around Indiana charged with public corruption for allegedly stealing more than $1 million in government funds, authorities said Thursday.
Five of the defendants were charged in federal court, and the 10 others face state charges filed by local prosecutors. U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said all 15 suspects were arrested in the unrelated corruption cases.
The arrests followed investigations conducted by Minkler’s office, the FBI, Indiana State Police, local law enforcement and the State Board of Accounts, which performed audits that gave prosecutors evidence in the cases.
Minkler said that while his office often handles criminal cases involving losses of several million dollars, the smaller sums involved in the five new cases his office is handling represent big financial blows to local government entities.
Those include $58,000 allegedly stolen from Greenwood Middle School, just south of Indianapolis, by a woman who served as a school treasurer, and thefts by the treasurers of three central Indiana fire departments.
“It’s not always about the amount of money stolen,” Minkler said during a Thursday news conference. “In a lot of these cases, in these small towns, it’s about a percentage of their annual budget. And $50,000 is a lot of money to the Greenwood schools.”
Kellie Cline, 35, is accused of stealing from programs receiving federal funds while serving as Greenwood Middle School’s extra-curricular activity treasurer. Her attorney declined to comment Thursday.
Cline was fired in April after being placed on leave following an internal audit that found the discrepancies.
The biggest losses among the 15 cases involve the Indianapolis Local Public Bond Bank. Two of the bank’s employees are charged in Marion County with allegedly stealing about $400,000.
“These won’t be the last cases, and we continue watching,” said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.