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Deborah Hendricks Black

Former Genesis Convention Center executive director Deborah Black was charged with theft from a local government entity receiving federal funds, courts said. 

HAMMOND — A Merrillville woman has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the Genesis Convention Center while acting as the executive director.

Deborah Black, 62, was charged with theft from a local government entity receiving federal funds, U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch said in a news release. 

Black and prosecutors entered a plea agreement Wednesday, which would require her to pay back more than $16,000 to the city of Gary.

Black was the executive director of the Genesis Convention Center, a venue owned by Gary, from November 2016 to August 2017. While executive director, Black is accused of using her position to steal from the Genesis Center, Kirsch said.

If the plea deal is accepted by the court, Black would be required to pay $16,421.80 in restitution. The maximum sentence for the charge is 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, the plea agreement stated.

“My office will continue to aggressively prosecute instances of public corruption,” Kirsch said. “Public officials are not above the law. I encourage anyone with information regarding official corruption to contact my office or the FBI.”

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Black's co-worker, Victoria Wilson, was previously charged with theft from a local government entity for allegedly stealing money from the Genesis Center, Kirsch said.

On Sept. 17, Wilson pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing.  In the plea agreement, she agreed pay $12,727 in restitution to the city of Gary.

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The charges are a result of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Indiana State Police and the Indiana State Board of Accounts.

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts, investigative news and more. She is a Region native and graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology.