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GRIFFITH | Police officer and former Town Councilman Michael Gulley recently was suspended without pay after being accused of stealing state police grant money, Griffith officials said.

Gulley is accused of taking about $1,600 by falsifying work hour records related to an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Traffic Grant known as Operation Pull Over.

Gulley's 30-day suspension began Feb. 27 after the Griffith Safety Board found him guilty of breaking rules and engaging in conduct unbecoming of an officer, according to information obtained by The Times via the Freedom of Information Act.

An internal Griffith Police Department audit showed Gulley had falsified 36 hours of work between March 2009 and December 2012 from the grant, said Gary Sutton, vice chairman of the Safety Board.

"The Town Council was notified of the suspension of Sgt. Gulley," Town Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, said Tuesday. "The Griffith Safety Board has oversight of the Police Department and also has disciplinary powers over police officers. I defer to the Safety Board for any comments or statements."

The internal audit was triggered when the department received an email from ICJI Northwest Law Enforcement laison Jeanette Bennett saying paperwork had been falsified by an officer from a department elsewhere in the state, Sutton said.

As a result, Bennett advised that she would be auditing such paperwork from all departments under her jurisdiction.

In light of the Gulley situation, the Griffith department was suspended in February from future ICJI grants — but was reinstated last month.

"We made some changes," Sutton said. "We improved on the check and balance system."

On Tuesday night, Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance said he met with Ryan Klitsch, of the ICJI Traffic Safety Division, and he is satisfied with the steps taken.

A letter from Gulley's attorney to the Safety Board, obtained through the FOIA, stated that Gulley would not request an evidentiary hearing.

Gulley was ordered to attend a Safety Board executive session March 14. However, the lawyer's letter stated that, "upon advice of counsel, Sgt. Gulley will not answer any questions posed to him by any member of the Town of Griffith Safety Board."

The Safety Board is set to meet again Thursday in executive session. The meeting will be followed by a public study session at 7 p.m.

Town officials said Gulley may be thinking of retiring from the department.

"The retirement is an agenda item on this week's Safety Board meeting," Mance said.

On a recommendation by the Safety Board, former Police Chief Ron Kottka and Gulley, Kottka's second-in-command, were demoted by the Town Council in November for alleged "gross misconduct" within the department.

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Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.