Call 6's Kara Kenney followed up on a report Advance Indiana exclusively brought to you in which we revealed that a former accountant of the Indianapolis Public Library who pleaded guilty in 1988 to embezzling nearly a half million dollars through a late book return fine-skimming scam later landed a well-paid job in contract procurement at Indiana University's IUPUI campus. That discovery was made by a local fraud examiner, Greg Wright, while doing research for a book on long-term embezzlers. Juanita Mimms, who went by Juanita Hoagland at the time of her conviction, abruptly resigned her more than $55,000 a year job at IU after Advance Indiana's report was first published. Kenney's further investigation has uncovered the fact that Mimms lied on her application in 1998 when she applied for a clerical job with help from a friend of her former husband.
Mimms told Kenney during a telephone interview that she could not recall whether she disclosed her 1988 felony embezzlement conviction. She also told her that her job did not involve handling any money. When Kenney obtained Mimms' personnel records through a public records request, she learned that Mimms had checked "No" next to a question on her job application asking her if she had ever been convicted of a crime. Kenney also learned that Mimms' job as a diversity coordinator assisting minority and female-owned businesses in contracting opportunities with the university required her to maintain expense reports, manage billing and invoice payments and maintaining records for department expenses. Mimms similarly lied to Wright when he first contacted about her past. During a telephone interview with Wright, Mimms lied about her prior employment by the Indianapolis Public Library, her date of birth; she even denied she formerly went by the name Juanita Hoagland, a fact Wright proved by obtaining her 1989 marriage record.
As Advance Indiana previously reported, Mimms only had to repay about $22,000 of the money prosecutors could prove she stole from the library after reaching an agreement with her when she filed for bankruptcy in 2004, at least five years after she started working for IU. Her fraud was uncovered by State Board of Accounts examiners who believe that her fraud had started many years earlier but records no longer existed to prove theft of public funds during those years. Mimms served only about six months of the three-year prison sentence she received under the terms of her plea agreement. According to Kenney, The Public Integrity Coalition, a newly-formed group by the Indiana Attorney General's Office, is looking at a way to connect local governments and school districts to a list of former public employees who have misappropriated public funds to use in making better-informed hiring decisions. The State Board of Accounts recently announced it would no longer audit some local governmental entities, including library districts, because of state budget cuts over the past ten years that have forced it to slash its staff.