A special prosecutor has ruled Monroe County Auditor Sandy Newmann was “grossly negligent” when she appropriated county funds without the approval of the county council.
The special prosecutor’s report also states Newmann broke no laws and will not be subject to criminal prosecution.
In February, Monroe County Auditor Sandy Newmann brought an appropriation request to the Monroe County Council to replenish money in the county’s health care fund. The council rejected that request unanimously. But then Newmann requested to appropriate the money anyway, signing a document asking to Indiana Department of Local Government Finance to grant approval.
The transcript of the February 13th council meeting shows Newmann involved in discussions about the appropriation and also witnessed the unanimous vote rejecting the request. Still, the $350,000 was posted to a county general fund by the end of February and a portion of that money was spent by the time the error surfaced months later.
Newmann claimed the action was a clerical error and explained she didn’t carefully examine the documents she signed that approved the action.
But the special prosecutor’s report states, “…there does not exist an acceptable scenario in which Auditor Newmann can reasonably claim inadvertence or a ‘mistake’ in pursuing administrative actions which were opposed to the will of the Council.”
Monroe County Council President Vic Kelson initiated the investigation into the Newmann’s actions. He says he never suspected Newmann purposefully committed the error.
“You I had presumed from the beginning that what had happened had been a mistake, a big mistake,” Kelson said. “I think that the public expects when we’re handling their money we’re going to be as attentive as we possibly can. We can’t afford mistakes.”
Keelson says the special prosecutor’s investigation proves the integrity of the state’s oversight process. He says he’s looking forward to working with the county’s new auditor, Amy Gerstman, to make sure such errors aren’t made during her upcoming term.
There have been situations over the last several years that have led the public to question the performance of our county’s financial officers,” Kelson said. “I think it’s going to be the responsibility of the commissioners and the council to work with [Gerstman] as she gets her organization in place. The kinds of questions we’ve seen leveled the last couple of years will become a thing of the past,”
Newmann vacates the auditor’s office at the end of the year, with newly-elected Gerstman taking her place in early January.