Saturday, November 17, 2012

Three Town Officials Indicted For Less Than $2,000 In Illegal Payments

I don't mean to minimize doing something that is illegal, but the indictment of three town officials in Palmyra, Indiana on charges of felony conspiracy to commit welfare fraud and official misconduct for their roles in defrauding the state of Indiana out of unemployment benefits seems to be a bit of overkill. Apparently one of the town council members, Virginia Kirkham, was drawing unemployment benefits when the town officials are alleged to have collectively agreed to pay her to clean the town hall and senior center. The payments totalling less than $2,000 were made payable to her husband since she was drawing unemployment benefits at the time, in addition to the $225 a month she earned as a town council member. One of the town council members didn't approve of the alleged plan and blew the whistle on the others. As a consequence, Kirkham, another town council member, Paul Eveslage, and the town's clerk-treasurer, Tiffany Cardwell, are all facing felony charges brought against them by the Harrison Co. Prosecutor. Kirkham also earned about $13,000 in unreported income from cutting hair on the side as well according to the indictments. Her husband, Ron Byerly, was also charged with conspiracy to commit welfare fraud. One of the indicted, Eveslage, told reporters "It's all lies."

Their indictments are also noteworthy given a report by WRTV's Kara Kenney this past week about how two-thirds of public officials in Indiana accused of misappropriating government funds, including outright theft of public funds, never face criminal charges for their actions. In neighboring Johnson County, Kenney found that Prosecutor Brad Cooper had failed to bring charges against seven local government officials in public corruption cases, including cases involving the theft of thousands of dollars. Cooper told Kenney he was not affording public officials special treatment. "Cooper said it is frustrating when he knows someone took tax dollars, but he can't file charges," Kenney reported. "Happens all the time," said Cooper. "We’re given an extremely high burden because we don't want to convict innocent people." These Palmyra officials probably wish they had a prosecutor in Harrison County who thinks more like Cooper. When I see all the public corruption occurring here in Indianapolis involving tens of million of public tax dollars being carried on in full public view, it's hard to get worked up over the relatively petty crimes these Palymra officials are alleged to have committed.


I know said...

Amen to your last paragraph.

WRTV has dirt on hundreds of millions of dollars of multiple felonies committed but their reporters were told to bury it or they would lose their jobs AFTER they confronted one of the current Daniel's administrations special appointees who still has his hands in the cookie jar!

Oh well with the FBI, the State Police, the Attorney General, the Inspector General, the State Ethics Chairmen, the Prosecutor's office and at least a dozen attorney's in Indianapolis are all knowledgeable of the friends and family plan for state contracts and they look the other way. What do you expect?

Maybe Harrison County is far enough away from Indianapolis that the water isn't tainted and they don't drink the Indianapolis kool aid.

Jesse said...

As a person who lives in the town of Palmyra, I take issue with your thoughts on this matter. While it the amount is small, it does not excuse these people of what they did. Since this happened I have been attending meetings and there is something more going on. I recently read a report from the state auditors office and the books were a mess. As a tax payer, I expect those elected to follow the law, even more so than the average Joe. Maybe others will learn, that everyone does it is not an excuse to break the law.