The Star's Jon Murray brings breaking news about investigators from Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office descending on the scandal-plagued Coroner's office this morning, with Brizzi himself, armed with search warrants. Murray writes:
Investigators with the Marion County prosecutor's office served a search warrant at the office of the county coroner this morning.
About a half-dozen men and women, including Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, went into the office. They declined to comment on the search warrant, but said the office would issue a statement later today.
About a half-dozen men and women, including Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, went into the office.Brizzi said they were reviewing seven death investigations by the Marion County coroner.
Grand jury investigators served the search warrants because “there have been some questions about the integrity of record-keeping in the office.” He did not elaborate.
Coroner Kenneth Ackles was not at the morgue, 521 W. McCarty Street, during the sweep.
The prosecutor's office has had an ongoing investigation into the coroner's office over allegations of mismanagement. In a report written in February, a police detective said he found a lack of computer security that allowed nearly three-dozen employees to alter property receipts without detection. That lapse has raised concerns that evidence could be corrupted.
The memo, dated Feb. 9, also reported that several thousand dollars worth of county equipment was missing and concluded that the coroner's office, "at least on the administrative level, is incompetent and careless."
Not surprisingly, Coroner Kenneth Ackles, who earns a living as a chiropractor, was not around when the investigators arrived. Advance Indiana began writing about the crisis in Ackles' office earlier this month. When the Star first wrote about the mess, among other things, we asked about the missing property. The Star later confirmed the problem of missing property, as well as its botched efforts to notify the family of a missing man, who may have been murdered, and then cremating his body. Brizzi's office is alarmed by these discoveries because of their potential to compromise future prosecutions by his office. Brizzi's office reportedly backed up a truck at the coroner's office early this morning and hauled away a load of documents from the coroner's office.
WTHR adds to the intrigue, reporting that the prosecutor's office is looking into possible obstruction of justice charges. Ackles has been in hiding all day at his chiropractic office, but he issued this statement to WTHR late today: "We do not necessarily believe that any current employee of the Coroner's office has misplaced any personal items or property. If I find, or it is determined, that anyone in our office has been careless or violated the public trust in any way, they will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately." We do not "necessarily believe" that Ackles thinks his employees are innocent.