MUNCIE — "This is a sad day for the people of Muncie." Those words Monday from Josh Minkler, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
At an afternoon news conference in Indianapolis, Minkler outlined the case against Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler who was arrested by FBI agents at his home Monday morning.
Tyler, who is in the final weeks of his second and last term as mayor, faces one federal charge of Theft of Government Funds. He was indicted by a federal grand jury last week.
Tyler appeared in federal court Monday and pleaded not guilty. His arrest is part of an on-going four-year investigation by the FBI and IRS into government corruption in Muncie involving kickbacks in exchange for public works projects, and other corruption-related matters.
Specifically, explained Minkler, Mayor Tyler allegedly took a $5,000 bribe to award "lucrative" government contracts to a Gaston, Indiana company that performed demolition, excavation and construction services in Muncie. Minkler called it a "straightforward case of government corruption."
"Public officials are entrusted to perform a public service and to legitimately conduct business in the best interest of the community that they represent," said Minkler. "Tyler not only betrayed the trust of his community, but violated federal law, and all in an effort to serve his own personal interests. My office intends to prosecute Tyler to the full extend of the law."
That means a prison term of up to ten-years and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Tyler is the seventh person arrested and charged in the Muncie corruption probe.
In January, Tyler's former building commissioner, Craig Nichols, was sentenced to two-years in federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering.
Tracy Barton, former Muncie Superintendent of Sewer Maintenance, is scheduled to go on trial next April.
Jeff Burke, identified as a Muncie businessman, and Rodney Barber, a local contractor also face federal trials next year.
Debra Nicole Grigsby, the District Administrator for the Muncie Sanitary District, and Tony Franklin, the owner of Franklin Building and Design, were both indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, making false statements and falsification of documents. Their case is set for trial in 2020.
You can read a copy of the indictment below:
Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler Indictment (Text)
You can watch the press conference below: