Friday, April 26, 2013

Carmel Officials Stand By High-Paid Financial Adviser With A Checkered Past

Cheyenne Poole, 21, faces preliminary charges of armed robbery, criminal confinement, auto theft and resisting law enforcement for allegedly robbing her benefactor Curtis Coonrod, 58.Photo provided by Lawrence Police Department (left), submitted photo (right).Public accountant Curt Coonrod's sordid relationship with a 21-year old woman he supported financially before she and her boyfriend plotted to rob money from him and steal his car is just the latest in a string of Coonrod's dirty laundry that calls into question his judgment. According to Cheyenne Pool, Coonrod befriended her after meeting her on a "sugar daddy" website and began helping her out financially, including furnishing her an apartment in which to live. She tells police that she and her boyfriend staged an armed robbery in her apartment while Coonrod was visiting her, tied up Coonrod and then stole his car, pretending that her boyfriend was kidnapping her. Poole told police that she grew tired of Coonrod's sexual advances and wanted it to stop as the excuse for staging the armed robbery. Incredibly, Coonrod insisted on Poole's innocence after she confessed to her role in the armed robbery.

Ordinarily, Coonrod's case would simply be dismissed as a private matter. He's not charged with committing any crime; just exercising very poor judgment. Coonod isn't just anyone. He's a certified public accountant who is paid $125,000 a year to provide financial advice to the City of Carmel. Mayor Brainard wasted no time in dismissing his arts adviser, Evan Lurie, after he was arrested for soliciting an undercover IMPD police officer. Carmel officials, at least at this point, are reserving judgment on Coonrod, if not outright defending him. The Star's Michael Boren and Dan McFeely, found Carmel officials mostly sympathetic towards Coonrod:
Carmel officials say they have no plans to end a $240-an-hour contract with Curtis Coonrod, the city’s longtime financial adviser, despite headlines concerning his involvement with a young college student he met on a “sugar daddy” dating website . . .
“One thing is clear, this is a very murky story as I have read,” Sharp told The Star, “and Mr. Coonrod has acknowledged that he is embarrassed.
“But it doesn’t seem that he has done anything improper. And his personal life is his personal life.” . .  .
“He presents excellent financial information and has done a superb job for the city,” Sharp said. “I see no reason why this (incident) would interfere with that.” . . .
Councilwoman Luci Snyder called the incident involving Coonrod as “most unfortunate, both for (him) personally and for those communities who have employed him.”
But she said she has not spoken to other council members about the situation and wants to withhold her thoughts.
“I find that opinions offered before all of the facts are in usually get you in trouble,” she said.
When this story first surfaced earlier this week, it came to my mind that Coornod had experienced a falling out with partners in a former accounting practice over his sexual perversions. Today's story provided more information concerning that situation that resulted in litigation between him and his former partners.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Coonrod’s actions involving other women have landed him in hot water.
In 2003, a legal spat within his previous Greenwood-based accounting firm burst into the public eye when Coonrod was sued by two former partners who alleged he hired a stripper as a personal assistant and often surfed pornographic websites on office computers. 
That lawsuit, filed in Johnson County, was filed by Eric Reedy and Jeffrey Peters, former partners who had themselves been sued by Coonrod over a non-compete clause when they left to form their own firm.
According to news reports at the time, the accountants accused Coonrod of hiring a former exotic dancer as his “personal assistant and escort” allowing her to use company funds to purchase lipstick, perfume and oil changes.
They also charged that Coonrod billed clients for hours of work performed by this personal assistant, even though she did not do meaningful work. Peters and Reedy also alleged that Coonrod used the business computers to surf a website called in order to make contact with female prisoners.
That lawsuit was eventually settled out of court. Peters, reached Thursday by phone, declined to comment publicly.
Perhaps it's just a private matter that he seems to only be able to socialize with members of the opposite sex by offering them money. I was particularly appalled several years ago to learn of what I viewed as an unseemly practice of him taking advantage of unsophisticated county auditors. Coonrod, who was an Indianapolis City-County Councilor at the time, had figured out that the Indiana Department of Revenue had not been properly disbursing all of the local income taxes to the counties. Knowing that there were unclaimed tax receipts just waiting to be claimed, Coonrod would approach county auditors with an offer of his professional services under which he would search for uncollected assets under a contingency fee agreement, not unlike personal injury attorneys enter into with their clients. The contract provided that Coonrod would be paid 33 1/3% of the amount of revenues he recovered for the county from the state.

The Hendricks County Auditor was one such person who foolishly signed a contract with him. After Coonrod identified over $8.2 million in local income taxes the state had failed to distribute to the county, he sent the auditor a bill for over $2.7 million. The county commissioners, who had never approved the contract, weren't too happy with the bill. The county auditor had to tell Coonrod she couldn't pay him. Coonrod sued her in her official capacity to collect his fee. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Hendricks County, holding that she lacked statutory authority to enter into the contract with him without the consent of the commissioners. Coonrod appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment. I'm not sure how many counties he convinced to enter into these dubious professional service contracts, or whether they paid him a contingency fee for his services, but it struck me as shady dealing with public officials. Guys like Coonrod always seem to thrive in getting lucrative no-bid contracts from public officials. It probably says something about the people we elect to make decisions on how to spend our tax dollars.

1 comment:

CircleCityScribe said...

This report has allowed me to draw the opinion that a dirty old man got what one can expect from picking up a hoochie on "".

As for those who wish to avail themselves of his financial services, that is their personal choice under the doctrine of "caveat emptor".

A person may associate with another person who has ill crime there. Many of us have family members that we don't want others to know are related to us due to their ill repute.

The question is: Does a City want its name to be associated with someone like that?