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[ATG] Attorney General files lawsuit to recover $75K from former Wabash County deputy clerk
Start Date: 5/29/2014Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 5/29/2014
Entry Description

WABASH, Ind. – Today Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office filed a lawsuit against a former Wabash County deputy clerk to recover more than $75,000 in public funds that the ex-employee allegedly misappropriated from the county clerk’s office before she was terminated.

Named as defendant in the Attorney General’s lawsuit filed in Wabash County Circuit Court is Sara Chamberlain of Urbana, Ind., a former county deputy clerk. The lawsuit seeks repayment of $75,333.18 to reimburse the county for the amount misappropriated, plus treble damages and attorney’s fees.

A recent State Board of Accounts certified audit of the Wabash County Clerk’s Office covering transactions between Jan. 1, 2011, to September 13, 2013, found $75,333.18 had been misappropriated and that Chamberlain was responsible for the loss. The SBoA examiners found that Chamberlain caused cash shortages in the clerk’s office through a variety of methods, including failing to deposit cash payments received, substituting checks for cash, voiding payments and adjusting payments to disguise the shortages in the records.

The SBoA certified audit authorizes the Attorney General’s Office to serve as the state’s collection agent and recover public funds in civil court, using the same methods a creditor can use against a debtor to collect on a debt.  By filing a lawsuit called a complaint to recover public funds, the Attorney General’s Office seeks a civil judgment against Chamberlain, and can pursue collections actions such as freezing bank accounts and placing liens against property.

“When a government employee in the court system is accused of repeatedly misappropriating the public funds placed in her care, it is a brazen violation of the public trust.  My office will work diligently through this lawsuit to hold this individual accountable, recover the funds lost and reimburse the public treasury,” Zoeller said.

Also today, the Attorney General’s Office requested and Judge Robert McCallen III signed a temporary restraining order prohibiting Chamberlain from selling, transferring or concealing any financial assets she owns – including bank accounts, retirement accounts, three properties and five vehicles.  At a hearing June 6 in Wabash County Circuit Court, the AG’s Office will ask to extend the TRO into a preliminary injunction, to preserve some assets until the overall case is concluded to have something available for possible repayment.

The Attorney General’s jurisdiction is civil only.  The Wabash County Prosecutor’s Office in February filed criminal charges against Chamberlain of three counts of theft, one count of official misconduct and one count of corrupt business influence.  The county had $20,000 of insurance coverage in place for employee theft, and any part of the loss not covered by insurance would be Chamberlain’s personal responsibility to repay.

Since January 2009, Attorney General Zoeller’s office through filing approximately 100 lawsuits and other efforts has collected approximately $4.5 million from current and former officials to reimburse local governments for amounts misappropriated.  Last month, Zoeller announced formation of the Public Integrity Coalition that is organizing education and training sessions for elected officials and public employees on the best ethical and accounting practices for handling public money and discharging public duties.  Coalition members include the Attorney General’s Office, State Board of Accounts, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District, the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns and the Association of Indiana Counties. One of Zoeller’s objectives is to reduce the overall number of problem audits that the SBoA certifies for collection, by deterring misappropriation before it occurs through training and education of public officials.

NOTE: A copy of the complaint to recover public funds, filed Thursday in Wabash County Circuit Court, is attached. The State Board of Accounts audit of the Wabash County Clerk’s Office, issued May 19, is at this link:  http://www.in.gov/sboa/WebReports/B43500.pdf

 

 -30-

Location Information:
State House
IN
Marion

Wabash County
Contact Information:
Name: Bryan Corbin
Phone: 317.233.3970
Email: Bryan.Corbin@atg.in.gov
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Attachments For This Entry:
    > State v. Sara Chamberlain -- Complaint to Recover Public Funds
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
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  • IN.gov Category:
  • Government
  • Taxes & Finance
  • Agency Name
    Attorney General

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