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State Board of Accounts accuses commissioners of misfeasance

 

The Indiana State Board of Accounts (SBA) has filed a report on the financial examination of LaGrange County for Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2010. The examination was made in the early part of 2011 and the financial report was published Aug. 25, 2011. This report stated “there were no material items that warrant comment at this time.”

On Dec. 27, 2012 (more than a year later) the SBA published reports on the LaGrange County Commissioners, LaGrange County Council and LaGrange County Auditor on the year 2010. These reports mostly concerned the handling of the Wagner Land acquisition at Fawn River Industrial Park and the property of the late Alvin and Ruth Lambright at Oliver Lake.

There is a charge of misfeasance against the county commissioners in this report. Commissioners in 2010 were Phil Curtis, George Bachman and Larry Miller.

Misfeasance, which is a Class D felony in Indiana, is described in a legal dictionary as “a term used in tort law to describe an act that is legal but performed improperly.”

The report also alleges that County Attorney Kurt Bachman failed to properly file “Uniform Conflict of Disclosure Statements.” This is also a Class D felony. Bachman did file a number of conflict statements, but the SBA report alleges that some of the statements were deficient and/or some statements were not filed that properly should have been filed.

The allegations made in the audit report, that was better than a year in the making, were disclosed to county officials in an Oct. 11, 2012 exit interview. The allegations were all refuted by the county in a response document dated Nov. 8, 2012 and hand-delivered that day to the SBA in Indianapolis. No part of the county response was included in the SBA audit report which was officially published Dec. 27 when it was posted on the State of Indiana website and mailed to County Prosecutor Jeff Wible.

Most times, when there is an exception noted in a SBA audit report, the matter is either resolved before the report is published or the response is published along with the audit report. The county response was drafted by Ice Miller LLP, a law firm from Indianapolis, and Burt, Blee, Dixon, Sutton and Bloom, LLP of Ft. Wayne. The law firms requested an opportunity to meet with the SBA to discuss the issues prior to publication of the audit. That request was not acknowledged or granted.

Wible is faced with the decision of charging a person or persons with a crime, ignoring the SBA allegations since a special prosecutor determined in 2011 that there had been no criminal acts performed, calling for another special prosecutor in the case, or possibly calling a grand jury.

Questions regarding the county’s receipt of a gift from the Lambright Trust of 256 acres fronting on the south side of Oliver Lake was investigated by Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Wilson in 2011. Wilson reported to the court on July 8, 2011, “that after due investigation, the undersigned has determined that there has been no criminal activity in the matter investigated by this special prosecutor; and this matter may now be closed and this cause taken off docket.”

Both Indiana State Police and LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department investigations were conducted and both of these agencies determined there had been no criminal actions taken, according to Sheriff Terry Martin.

The SBA reports are lengthy. The county financial report is 57 pages and the county commissioners report 15 pages. The reports relating to the county council and county auditor are shorter and contain only six pages each.

The county’s response is 18 pages. 

Attached are the reports:

AttachmentSize
Auditorauditreport.pdf976.39 KB
Auditorauditreport2.pdf975.6 KB
Commissionersauditreport.pdf1021.21 KB
Councilaudireport.pdf990.09 KB
Countyauditresponse.pdf808.74 KB