LAPORTE | The Indiana Attorney General's Office is freezing the assets of a former LaPorte County official accused of stealing more than $150,000 in tax dollars.
LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos granted a motion by Deputy Attorney General Kurt Hammel for a temporary restraining order on the assets of Mary Ray.
Ray was deputy LaPorte County auditor during the period the alleged thefts occurred from throughout 2012, according to the findings on file with the court from an audit by the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
John Pajakowski, a field examiner with the SBOA, said in writing more than $150,000 in LaPorte County funds were "being misappropriated, diverted or unaccounted for by Ray."
Specifically, it's alleged in the state's affidavit that Ray failed to record and/or improperly receipted checks that were in her custody then would substitute those checks for cash from the daily deposits.
The temporary restraining order freezes Ray's assets such as a house in LaPorte along with a 2012 Kia Optima, a 2007 Hyundai Tucson, a 1995 Dodge Dakota and a 2008 Kawasaki motorcycle.
Her assets were ordered frozen until the audit is completed, according to the Indiana Attorney General's Office.
The investigation of missing funds began with a report to police that a bank deposit bag the Auditor’s Office used had been stolen.
It was later recovered from a book deposit box at the library in LaPorte with the checks still inside but $3,200 in cash was missing.
As deputy auditor, Ray’s duties included collecting payments from other county departments, receiving various payments to the Auditor’s Office such as permit fees made to the county, in both cash and checks, and depositing them into the county’s bank accounts, according to the Indiana Attorney General's Office.
Ray served as the deputy for LaPorte County Auditor Craig Hinchman from 2009 to 2012 when he was defeated in a bid for a second term.
Current auditor Joie Winski said she contacted police during her first week in office after noticing some "red flags."
"I notified them immediately," said Winski.
LaPorte County Police Chief of Detectives Pat Cicero said his department started working the case later turned over to state police.
He would not offer any further specifics.
"It's an open investigation. We just can't comment on," he said.
He wasn't aware of any criminal charges being filed yet against Ray.
Ray's phone number is unlisted, and could not be reached for comment.