State seeks $198,000 from ex-deputy LaPorte County auditor

2014-02-25T12:12:00Z 2014-02-26T16:32:06Z State seeks $198,000 from ex-deputy LaPorte County auditorStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 25, 2014 12:12 pm  • 

LAPORTE | The state, following an audit, is requesting payback of nearly $200,000 from LaPorte County's former chief deputy auditor.

The State Board of Accounts, in its findings filed Feb. 21, is seeking reimbursement to the county of just over $153,000 from Mary Ray.

Ray is also being ordered to pay the state nearly $46,000 to cover the cost of the audit.

In September, a judge froze a portion of Ray's assets, specifically her house and vehicles, to guarantee her the ability to pay at least a portion of her alleged debt owed to the county.

LaPorte County attorney Shaw Friedman said civil action has already been taken by the county and state requesting full reimbursement.

The county has insurance to cover the loss but there's a deductible to pay with a claim, but if Ray is ordered to pay back the funds there's no need to use the policy, said Friedman.

Any unpaid funds also could be ordered paid as part of any sentence that could result if there's a criminal case against Ray.

No decision has been made on whether to charge Ray, who was the chief deputy auditor from 2009 through 2012 under then county auditor Craig Hinchman.

LaPorte County Prosecutor Bob Szilagyi said Indiana State Police is heading up the criminal investigation and are waiting for the results of the audit before proceeding further into its probe.

Szilagyi said his office won't decide whether to bring about charges until presented with the state police findings.

The probe into Ray's alleged dealings began after a LaPorte County treasurer's bag containing cash and checks somehow wound up in a book drop box at the LaPorte County Public Library branch in LaPorte at the end of December of 2012.

The audit alleges 150 transactions where county tax dollars collected were less than what was actually deposited from Sept. 19, 2011, to Dec. 28, 2012.

Money transfers from other departments were used to cover the discrepancies in the books.

However, the shuffling in the books was not enough to fill the hole in total cash and checks collected together during the 14-month period, according to the audit.

Ray was the primary employee responsible for properly recording the transactions in the county's ledgers and all of the deposits with unaccounted for cash were made by Ray, according to the audit.

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