Court freezes assets of former LaPorte County official

2013-09-16T14:33:00Z 2013-09-16T19:50:19Z Court freezes assets of former LaPorte County officialStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 16, 2013 2:33 pm  • 

LAPORTE | A paper trail of tax dollars used to gamble was laid out in a hearing Monday for a former LaPorte County official who had a portion of her assets ordered frozen.

A request by the Indiana Attorney General's Office for a permanent injunction against Mary Ray was granted Monday by LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevios, who prohibited Ray from selling her house and vehicles.

Alevizos, though, did not freeze all of Ray's assets as requested by the state.

The defense argued she needs access to some of her assets to help pay for her defense in the event criminal charges are filed against her.

Defense attorney Kurt Earnst also argued the state did not prove it was Ray who took the funds.

"Maybe someone set her up. We don't know for sure," said Earnst.

Jennifer Gauger, representing the attorney general's office, presented evidence that alleged Ray took more than $150,000 in tax dollars while chief deputy LaPorte County auditor.

John Pajakowski, an auditor with the Indiana State Board of Accounts, testified more than 340 deposits were made by various representatives of the LaPorte County Auditor's Office from September of 2011 to December of 2012.

He said 149 of those deposits had missing cash and all of those deposits were made by Ray.

None of the other deposits had missing funds, he said.

LaPorte County police Detective Scott Boswell testified the investigation began when a LaPorte County Treasurer's bag containing checks and cash was found in a book drop box at the library in LaPorte at the end of 2012.

Boswell said records obtained from Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City showed Ray was a regular patron during the period the funds were taken.

He said the casino documents showed Ray racked up about $93,000 in winnings and just over $97,000 in losses in 2012.

Indiana State Police detective Mike Bailey also testified he obtained records that showed Ray was gambling at Four Winds Casino.

He did not provide any statistics, though, on how much Ray allegedly won or lost at the casino outside New Buffalo.

LaPorte County attorney Shaw Friedman said it was important to have her assets frozen so they are preserved for the county to obtain for recovery of the missing cash.

Friedman said the county has insurance but there's a deductible and if a claim is filed that would result in higher premiums.

He also said the Internal Revenue Service and FBI are also assisting in the investigation and that other places where Ray allegedly used tax dollars will be unveiled later in the case.

He did not know if any of the funds are still left.

"What's clear is it's missing and we want a full recovery of those funds," said Friedman.

Whoever made the deposits had to sign off on them by entering their personal identification code into a computer.

Earnst raised the possibility that someone else obtained Ray's code on the missing deposits.

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