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Township trustee owes taxpayers $56K after helping relatives, audit shows

Posted at 11:55 AM, Jul 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-05 14:54:16-04

GRANT COUNTY — State auditors are asking a township trustee to repay taxpayers $56,628 following an audit that found she used township assistance funds to help herself and relatives.

The Fairmount Township advisory board became concerned in January 2019 about several transactions and contacted the Indiana State Board of Accounts, Indiana State Police and Grant County prosecutor.

The SBOA conducted an investigation of the townships records from Aug. 11, 2016 to Feb. 9, 2019.

Sheila Metzger was appointed township trustee on Aug. 11, 2016 and elected to a four-year term from Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2022.

The SBOA investigation found Metzger and her relatives received township assistance benefits for utilities, rent, car expenses and food.

Auditors expressed concern that the township distributed the assistance without an application on file, and without supporting documentation.

“An individual with a close relationship to the Trustee received $903.60 for utility assistance for which there wasn’t an application on file that indicated that service address,” read the audit.

The audit also found the township issued a check to a utility company for $500 to Metzger’s residence.

Metzger received $3,750 in excess pay, beyond what the budget allowed for.

The township trustee received 12 checks for mileage reimbursements totaling $1,207, however the State Board of Accounts could not find any documentation supporting Metzger’s reason for travel or miles traveled.

The State of Indiana racked up $17,917 in additional special investigation costs in Fairmount Township.

Auditors criticized the township’s lack of controls to prevent misappropriation of funds.

“The Trustee was the sole person responsible for all financial processes,” read the audit.

They’ve asked Sheila Metzger to pay $56,628.63 to taxpayers.

Board member James Loftin told RTV6 they’ve asked the trustee to resign, but she has not yet done so.

“We are letting the authorities do their job and we will go with that,” Loftin said. “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and we want to follow the law.”

Call 6 Investigates emailed and called Metzger but did not receive a response.

Metzger did not respond to the State Board of Accounts’ requests for a meeting, records show.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Grant County Prosecutor Rodney Faulk said he knows about the investigation by the State Board of Accounts and Indiana State Police. Faulk said he has not received final reports from either agency.

When a public official is convicted of crimes involving their work in public office, they can be forced to forfeit the elected position.

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