Wife of former sheriff to return pension payments

2012-11-18T13:59:00Z Wife of former sheriff to return pension paymentsStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 18, 2012 1:59 pm  • 

The wife of the former LaPorte County sheriff will no longer collect a pension and return the full amount collected of more than $36,000.

Those are the terms of a proposed settlement approved Friday by the LaPorte County Sheriff's Merit Board.

Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer said the agreement was worked out between the attorneys representing the merit board and Lauren Arnold, the wife of former Sheriff Jim Arnold.

The merit board took legal action in September alleging Lauren Arnold was wrongfully collecting a pension and sought to stop the payments of $514 per month along with full reimbursement of what she has collected since drawing the pension.

Lauren Arnold was the jail matron in charge of feeding the offenders during her husband's two terms as sheriff from 1999 to 2006.

Jim Arnold, now the state senator from District 8, was just reelected to another term.

The merit board alleged Lauren Arnold was not qualified to receive the pension because she wasn't a police officer.

Jim Arnold, though, previously contended that when his wife applied for the pension anyone with more than five years of service at the sheriff's department was eligible.

The years of service to qualify was changed to 10 but that wasn't until after her pension application was approved and just prior to Arnold finishing his tenure as sheriff.

"To me it was completely wrong and this proves it," said Mollenhauer.

The proposed settlement agreement will be sent back to Joseph Amaral, the attorney representing the Arnolds for his signature.

Amaral, of South Bend, declined comment.

"It's my view that I really don't talk about pending matters or things that I'm involved in," said Amaral.

The Arnolds could not be reached for a response.

"A huge wrong has been corrected," said merit board president Jim Kimmel, who went on to reveal steps have been taken to preventing anyone not a law enforcement officer at the sheriff's department from again collecting a pension.

He said the money to be paid back by Lauren Arnold will be placed back into the pension fund.

"Safety nets are now in place to make sure something like this never happens again," said Kimmel.

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