INDIANAPOLIS — Local leaders are calling for an audit of the city's violence-prevention grants after a group that received public money paid bail for a man who was later accused of killing his girlfriend.
"I think it is time for an audit," City-County Council member Paul Annee said Monday. "I think it's important that taxpayers know where the money is going."
Annee, a Republican, said the need for the audit was made clear after WRTV reported last week that the city gave $150,000 to The Bail Project through grants to programs that work to reduce violent in Indianapolis.
In January, records show The Bail Project paid $1,500 to bail Marcus Garvin out of jail on charges of felony battery after he allegedly stabbed a man an east-side convenience store in December.
Garvin was free on bail and wearing a GPS ankle bracelet as part of a court-ordered monitoring program when prosecutors say he stabbed Christie Holt to death at an east-side motel on July 24.
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office charged Garvin, 33, with murder on Aug. 3.
WRTV asked Mayor Joe Hogsett's office for comment. Hogsett, a Democrat, is scheduled to introduce his proposed 2022 budget Monday, Aug. 9. Hogsett has promised the budget will include new efforts aimed at reducing violence.
Grants to non-profits working in Indianapolis neighborhoods have been a key strategy in the mayor's efforts to reduce violence for several years. The Bail Project was among 26 groups that received a share of $2.2 million in grants in December. The organization was awarded a $50,000 grant in September 2019.
The Central Indiana Community Foundation administers the grants and chooses the groups that receive money. CICF President Brian Payne said the grants to The Bail Project support housing, transportation and other services that reduce recidivism, not bail money.
The Bail Project's National Director of Operations David Gaspar said in an email to WRTV that no Indianapolis taxpayer money was used in the group's revolving bail fund.
"A goal of our community-based model of pretrial support is to address the unmet needs that a person might have, be it housing, substance use, or mental health, which might be driving them into contact with the criminal legal system in the first place," Gaspar said.
Annee said it doesn't matter to him that The Bail Project doesn't use the city's money specifically to pay bails. The fact that the group receives public money is a problem, he said.
"As violence is surging in the Circle City, I think it’s important that taxpayers have confidence in this program," Annee said. "This undermines the grant program."
With 168 homicides so far this year in Marion County, the community is on a pace to see another record by the end of this year. By Aug. 9, 2020, the county saw 138 homicides before ending the year with 245.
Annee said he is reaching out to council Democrats and the mayor's office in hopes of gathering the support he needs to launch an audit of the grant program.
Rick Snyder, president of the Indianapolis chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, agreed that an audit is needed.
"It needs to be done by someone outside the city," Snyder said.
Snyder said he intends to meet with Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican, to see if the state could conduct a review of the city's grant program.
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @vicryc.