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Boone County: Former Whitestown Court Clerk arrested

Theft and forgery among the charges
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Posted at 7:14 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 19:17:25-04

BOONE COUNTY — A former Whitestown Court Clerk was arrested Friday after prosecutors formally charged her this week with 14 felony counts including theft, forgery, corrupt business influence, and official misconduct.

Johnetta Roberts, arrested under the name Johnetta Wills, was booked into the Boone County Jail Friday, the same day the Indiana State Board of Accounts released an audit on her practices.

The Indiana State Board of Accounts is asking the former Whitestown Court Clerk to repay $35,786 to the taxpayers after an audit uncovered Roberts failed to make cash deposits into the court’s bank account.

Roberts was hired as the Town of Whitestown Court Clerk in 2008 and resigned on July 1, 2019.

She was responsible for entering all electronic and paper tickets into the court's software system, collecting ticket payments, posting payments to Key Court, preparing and making deposits into the court's bank account, preparing checks, and reconciling the bank account, according to an audit released Friday.

Town officials conducted an internal investigation which uncovered that no cash deposits were made to the court's bank account for 2018 or 2019, read the audit.

The Indiana State Board of Accounts performed an investigation of the court's records for the period of January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, and Indiana State Police conducted an investigation as well.

ISP subpoenaed two of Roberts’ bank accounts and was able to trace money to unpaid tickets recorded in the court's records.

Per an interview with Indiana State Police, Roberts stated:

1. Regarding the lack of cash deposited to the court's bank accounts, "she would take the cash,” read the audit.

2. Regarding the cash deposits into the two Roberts' bank accounts, she ‘honestly’ did not
know how much would have been from tickets.

The State Board of Accounts says Roberts needs to repay $18,733 in collections not deposited, as well as $17,052 in special investigation costs racked by state auditors.

The audit was forwarded to prosecutors who filed charges on September 10.

“The Boone County Prosecutor’s Office previously sought a special prosecutor in this investigation,” said Boone County Prosecutor Kent Eastwood in an email to WRTV. “Clinton County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christin Smith was appointed.”

WRTV Investigates was unable to reach Roberts for comment.

The audit also criticized the town’s lack of internal controls.

“There were no controls evident, such as oversight, review, or approval process, over the receipts and disbursements of the court,” read the audit. “The court clerk was the sole person responsible for all financial processes.”

The town released the following statement:

“The town does not tolerate a breach of the public trust within our community and condemns the actions of the former Town Court Clerk. The town will continue to cooperate with state and local officials in holding the former Court Clerk responsible.

The town initially learned in 2019 of failures by the former Town Court Clerk to timely report and transfer payments received for traffic violations pending before another court. Though the town was not aware of unaccounted for funds at that time, the town recognized a potential for misappropriation by the former Court clerk and immediately began an internal investigation as a precaution. While the town was investigating, the former Court Clerk resigned.

Immediately upon finding evidence of apparent misappropriation of funds, the town notified the State Board of Accounts and Indiana State Police, and fully cooperated with investigators from both agencies.

In addition, in coordination with the Whitestown Police Department (WPD) and Boone County Prosecutor’s Office, the Town Court immediately ceased accepting new cases, and any new cases arising from WPD tickets have been filed in Boone Superior Court. The Town Court also undertook a comprehensive review of its procedures, processes, functionality, and technology. Ultimately, the Town and Town Court determined that it was in the public interest to dissolve the Town Court. The Town therefore adopted Ordinance 2020-07 early this year, providing for the abolition of the Town Court, and has worked to close court matters. New tickets will continue to be prosecuted through the Boone County Superior Court.”