Update — Feb. 13, 2015, 3:50 pm
The U.S. Attorney’s office is bringing federal charges against a former Owen county auditor for using $310,000 in taxpayer money to pay for personal expenses, including food, alcohol, gift cards, toys, jewelry and vacations.
Angela Lawson, 56, was arrested at her home this morning and indicted on five counts of theft. The charges are on the federal level because the money she allegedly stole was from programs receiving federal funding.
Lawson faces up to 50 years in prison.
“The public deserves elected officials whom they can trust to be fiscally responsible and to do the right thing,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said in a statement. “When that trust is betrayed, it shakes the foundation of our democracy and weakens the effectiveness of our government.”
Here is how the alleged theft breaks down by year:
- 2010 – $36,720
- 2011 – $56,376
- 2012 – $80,847
- 2013 – $79,240
- 2014 – $56,415
Lawson was Owen County auditor from 2005 to 2012. She was also an Owen County council member and deputy auditor in 2013 and 2014.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says it will hold a press conference today to announce federal corruption charges against a former Owen County auditor.
A release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not name the individual being charged, but the Herald-Times reports former county auditor Angie Lawson is suspected of spending as much as $400,000 in county money on merchandise for her and her family.
As the Herald-Times also reports, Owen County has filed a civil lawsuit against Lawson, seeking the recovery of more than $1 million in county funds:
A recent lawsuit filed by county attorney Richard Lorenz on behalf of the Owen County Board of Commissioners seeks the recovery of $1.18 million in public funds, which is three times the amount of theft uncovered so far by an ongoing State Board of Accounts audit.
State law allows for triple damages in civil cases involving misuse of public funds. The lawsuit also requested a temporary injunction to keep the woman and her husband from selling or liquidating assets such as cars and property that ultimately could be sold to repay their debt to the county. Finally, it asks that the former auditor be prohibited from collecting her county insurance and retirement benefits until the matter is resolved.
Assistant University States Attorney Brad Blackington and representatives from the Postal Inspection Service, the Indiana State Police, the Indiana State Board of Accounts and Special Prosecutor Robert Cline will all be present at the conference.