Thursday, August 23, 2012
Hancock County Coroner Resigns After Guilty Plea: Can She Still Run For Re-Election?
Hancock Co. Coroner Tamara Vangundy agreed to plead guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and official misconduct. Vangundy's arrest occurred after she showed up for a death investigation noticeably under the influence of alcohol. She was sentenced to one year of probation. According to news reports, Vangundy will resign her elected position; however, she will remain on the November ballot for re-election and, in effect, re-interview for her old job. News reports of her plea deal are conflicting. The Star report indicates that Vangundy's guilty plea included one felony charge of official misconduct, while other news reports indicated that she pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, including official misconduct. Indiana's criminal code, however, makes official misconduct a class D felony. I couldn't find a lesser crime defined as a misdemeanor in the criminal code. If she pleaded guilty to a felony, she would appear to be disqualified as a candidate under I.C. 3-8-1-5. According to her attorney, Carl Brizzi, the intention of the plea agreement reached by Vangundy and a special prosecutor appointed to handle the case was for her to plead guilty to two misdemeanors. Can the court re-classify a crime defined under Indiana law as a felony as a misdemeanor to avoid the operation of I.C. 3-8-1-5 so she can remain eligible for re-election? I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of others.