Friday, May 26, 2006

More Bad News For Bolejack

The Inspector General publicly released its report on the investigation of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute on the Friday leading into the extended Memorial Day weekend which began for many today. The 49-page report makes it almost certain that a criminal investigation will be lauched against ousted executive director Heather Bolejack and the family friend, Michael McKenna, who was the beneficiary of a $417,000 grant. Inspector General David Thomas has forwarded the results of the report to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis and the Marion Co. Prosecutor's office. This investigation will most likely be led by the U.S. Attorney's Office because federal funds are involved and the Marion Co. Prosecutor has a conflict because it receives grants from the agency.

Based upon a late afternoon AP report, the IG's report breaks new ground in the investigation. Among other things, we learn that Bolejack attempted to steer two other grants to McKenna before he finally succeeded in obtaining the third $417,000 grant for the S.K.I.P. program. The report says the ICJI staff refused to process 2 of the grants for McKenna. The investigation found that there was "an effort to bypass state review and approval procedures" to direct the grant money to McKenna.

Raising further the specter of criminal wrongdoing, the report concluded that "[t]he primary purpose of the SKIP grant award was to benefit McKenna and not provide mentoring services to juvenile as required by federal law." McKenna had not mentored one single child of an incarcerated parent with the $80,000 he had received during the first 7 months after the awarding of the grant according to the report. McKenna "admitted that this grant was his only source of funding, that he intended to pay himself a $95,000 salary from the grant" and, according to the AP, had spent the money mainly on salaries, vehicle leasing, office space, computers and out-of-state travel.

Particularly problemmatic for Bolejack is the finding that none of the 3 reviewing boards scrutinized the grant before it was awarded. The AP reports that the minutes of two of those boards, however, "were fraudulently and perhaps criminally later altered and falsified to make it appear as if both groups had fully reviewed and approved of this arrangement," when they had not.

And it gets even worse. The report also found that Bolejack had other staff members put her personal travel expenses on their personal credit cards when she was travelling in an apparent attempt to hide the extent of her own personal travel while working for the agency.

AI suspects that reporters who have been closely monitoring this story will be not be happy with the Daniels administration for dropping the report at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend, one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year in Indiana because of the running of the annual Indianapolis 500 race.


Abdul said...

I'm not upset. We had it on the air before everyone else and it will make a great segment for Tuesday morning. I'm also using it for my piece for the Indianapolis Business Journal this weekend. Let the fun continue and enjoy your Memorial Day.


Advance Indiana said...

Somebody must have been playing favorites again Abdul--looks like you got ahold of that report before others did. More power to you.

Abdul said...

Thanks, but no one played favorites, I just did what a reporter is supposed to do. Hope you'll listen. I have to get you back in studio soon.

Advance Indiana said...

Looking forward to the chance Abdul.