Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Former Beech Grove Mayor Could Face Prosecution For Misspent Funds

Former Beech Grove Mayor Joe Wright couldn't have done the taxpayers of that community a bigger favor by resigning his office in 2011. He apparently was competing with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard to see who could govern more corruptly. According to a State Board of Accounts report requested by his successor, Dennis Buckley, Wright spent taxpayer dollars for the cost of producing several campaign videos for his 2007 mayoral campaign, which also featured other Republican council candidates at the time. Wright was asked to repay the city close to $2,500.00. He didn't return the money, but the Beech Grove Republican Candidates Committee did repay the money to the city four years after the fact.

Mayor Buckley complained to state auditors that at least six dozen boxes of records went missing before he took office, and that official meeting records and minutes were incomplete. Wright had doled out loans to private business totalling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, a number of which were found to be in default. One of the loans was made to a business owned by Wright's predecessor, Terry Dilk. At the end of 2011, there were six loans in default, representing about half of the outstanding loans. The city had previously lost about $50,000 on loans made to businesses that went bankrupt where the city had failed to properly secure its interest in repayment of the loans the state board of accounts report noted. In the case of some loans, the state board of accounts was unable to ascertain what governmental authority had approved the loans. The report found numerous cases of expenditures being paid from the wrong funds and bills not being paid in a timely manner.

The report also found that had Wright authorized a payment of more than $15,000 to the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg to lobby Congress using TIF funds, which is not a  permitted use of redevelopment funds under Indiana's TIF law. The city paid the law firm more than $50,000 for lobbying purposes over a several year period. What ever happened to a mayor picking up the phone and talking to his congressman or senator? Is it really necessary for a city to hire a lobbyist in Washington, particularly one as small as Beech Grove?

Mayor Buckley complained in a letter to the state board of accounts that "evidence of mismanagement was both pervasive and obvious" when he took office in 2012. Commenting on the findings, Wrights said, "At worst, there is evidence of questionably ethical behavior and clear violations of the public trust." "These were mistakes made recklessly, intentionally and without fear of recourse." Buckley agreed that the use of the TIF funds paid to Barnes & Thornburg to lobby Congress "were inappropriately used" and their lobbying contract has been discontinued.

Buckley told state officials in his response that he was astounded by the lack of documentation, in particular, for one of the loans Wright had authorized to a private business. Buckley says that at least 71 boxes of city files were missing from the city archives. In addition, he found that the first two years of records for the city's redevelopment commission are missing. During this time period, the commission issued $5.8 million in bonds. Buckley complained that Wright had used other city funds for political purposes that were found to be for city-related purposes. "Any objective viewer of these materials would know that they were designed for political, not official, purposes," Buckley wrote.

Buckley said one of the loans authorized by Wright to Rainy Day Investments, Inc. was co-signed by former Beech Grove Mayor Terry Dilk. "Mr. Dilk was the only solvent party from which to seek collection," Buckley wrote. The city filed suit against Dilk in August, 2012. "This case has been resolved and is subject to a confidentiality agreement," Buckley added. Not to rain on Buckley's parade, but that agreement is a public document and must be produced if requested.

A spokesperson for Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry's office told the Star that his office is reviewing the report to determine if criminal charges should be filed against Wright or others. One of the campaign videos paid for by taxpayer dollars is shown below.


Wilson46201 said...

Brian Bosma was Beech Grove City Attorney during that corrupt GOP regime...

Wilson46201 said...

A video of Beech Grove City Attorney Brian Bosma from the same entity that posted the above Wright video