MUNSTER — The Indiana Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether the state can seek to reclaim nearly $700,000 in extra retirement pay from former School Town of Munster Superintendents William Pfister and Richard Sopko.
The attorney general's office said Tuesday it will request Indiana's high court overturn Monday's ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals that held the statute of limitations for the state to pursue repayment has expired.
The office said the Munster ruling conflicts with another recent decision by a separate three-judge appellate panel that permitted the state to pursue repayment based on a belated audit by the State Board of Accounts, and the Supreme Court needs to clarify which standard should be followed.
"There is little question that sound public policy — and the Legislature's intent — is for the State Board of Accounts to have the flexibility to fully investigate wrongdoing by public officials and for the attorney general's office to have the ability to make the public whole after the full scope of corruption has been exposed," the office said.
"We remain confident that in due course the Supreme Court will affirm this sensible approach established by the General Assembly."
The Court of Appeals acknowledged the potential conflict in its Munster ruling.
However, it said the cases were distinguishable because Pfister was paid $359,728.94 and Sopko $311,198.75 under contracts that were continually approved, along with the related payment vouchers, by the Munster School Board, while the other case involved alleged theft by a circuit court bookkeeper.
There is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the state's request for transfer, as nearly every case appealed to the state's high court is rejected by its five justices.