Monday, November 23, 2009

Zoeller Seeks To Recover Misspent Public Funds

Attorney General Greg Zoeller has brought a lawsuit against five former Chesterfield, Indiana officials he says misspent more than $259,000 in public funds. The lawsuit is based on the findings of a October 26, 2009 audit by the State Board of Accounts. “The claim that the town’s former top fiscal officer and the town’s former police chief hatched a scheme to defraud the taxpayers who employed them appears to be the ultimate betrayal of the public’s trust,” Zoeller said. Here are the specific allegations Zoeller has made against the former employees:

•Former town clerk-treasurer and town manager Christopher Parrish. The lawsuit alleges Parrish paid himself $31,535.91 in fictitious travel expenses and approved phony claims and improperly issued reimbursement checks for four other defendants. Parrish resigned from his town positions in January 2009.

•Former town marshal James Kimm. The complaint alleges Kimm submitted falsified mileage reimbursement claims to Parrish for destinations to which he didn’t travel and was paid $52,553.06. He also allegedly received $1,700 in petty cash reimbursements from Parrish. The State Board of Accounts audit noted that Kimm’s description for most of the out-of-state travel was to pick up military surplus from the U.S. Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office. When examiners checked with the DRMO, they reportedly found no record of anyone from Chesterfield, including Kimm, obtaining equipment from a DRMO location, the audit said. Kimm resigned as town marshal in January 2009.

•Joseph Brown, a former part-time police officer for Chesterfield who is half-brother of Kimm. The lawsuit alleges Brown participated in a scheme with Parrish and Kimm where Brown submitted phony claims for automotive repairs to town-owned vehicles that never were performed. The State Board of Accounts examiners reported that the street address of “Brown’s Automotive” listed on the invoices is a home in a residential neighborhood where there was no indication of commercial automotive work taking place. Brown received 24 checks totaling $115,391.44 between January 2007 and March 2008, the audit found.

•Christopher Walters, a former town maintenance superintendent, and his brother James Walters, a former town maintenance employee. The suit alleges the two former employees were part of a scheme with Parrish where they were paid $37,600 for repair work to town government buildings that never occurred, according to the audit. The suit alleges James Walters owes $13,002.88 for hours he was paid but didn’t work and owes $2,850 for tools improperly purchased with town funds. Christopher Walters allegedly was overpaid by $4,992.76 for hours he didn’t work.
Not surprisingly, Chesterfield's Town Council had no idea the employees were defrauding the municipal government before the State Board of Accounts released its audit.

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