Trustee charged with failure to file reports, removal from office expected

Sandra Norman also faces $1,500 in fines

MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. - Morgan County prosecutors have charged Ashland Township Trustee Sandra Norman with two Infractions for failure to file reports -- including the fiscal year 2012 annual report and 100-R report, which includes compensation of officers and employees.

Indiana law says a public official who fails to keep financial books can be removed from office.

Deputy State Examiner Paul Joyce of the State Board of Accounts said this is the first time in Indiana history, to his knowledge, that a county prosecutor has taken such action against a public official.

"I'm personally very happy he did (file the infractions)," Joyce told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney. "I don't think it's ever been attempted. I'm glad to see the prosecutor sees the importance of this for his county."

The charges come weeks after Joyce wrote a letter to Morgan County prosecutor Steve Sonnega requesting Norman be removed from office in order to protect the integrity of the office and remaining assets of the taxpayers in Ashland Township.

"It is my opinion that the Ashland Township trustee, Sandra Norman, has failed to perform a duty which she is legally obligated to perform," the letter from Joyce read. "Norman has committed malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance as the elected Trustee for Ashland Township, Morgan County; and that as a result (Norman) has forfeited her office pursuant to IC 5-11-1-10 and IC 5-11-1-21."

Norman could face up to $1,500 in fines, according to Sonnega, who said the infractions are not criminal but are similar to driving on a suspended license.

A judge would have to find Norman guilty and impose forfeiture of office as a penalty.

"We'll have to see how it plays out in court," said Sonnega. "Infractions are something we are very comfortable in filing."

The State Board of Accounts audit recently requested Norman repay $7,860.23 to the taxpayers for purchases made without supporting documentation, including hotel stays, mileage, conferences, utilities, repair work and other expenses.

Morgan County Republican Chairman Daniel Elliott told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney once the legal process is complete and there's a vacancy, the party will hold a caucus to select a new Ashland Township trustee.

Norman replaced her mother, Dorothy Brummett, who submitted her resignation in 2010 saying the township was out of money for poor relief .

The audit just released also criticized Ashland Township for not complying with Internal Revenue Service directives to remit income tax and Social Security withholdings.

Auditors questioned why board minutes were missing for most meetings and no budget has been approved since the year 2008.

In 2010, then-Trustee Brummett admitted to Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney that because of personal issues, she didn't do the best job as trustee.

"I'm not dealing with all the things that have happened in my life," she said in 2010. "I just basically shut down."

Nearly three years ago, Norman told Kenney she would do her best to clear up the problems in the township office.

Joyce told Kenney Thursday he hopes Sonnega's efforts to remove Norman from office will send a message to new trustees that they will be held accountable for their actions.

"We can now point to at least one case," said Joyce. "It's a good step."

Read: Probable cause affidavit

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6 | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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