Councilor Questions Discretion Of Sheriff's Donations

Jail Commissary Funds Donated By Sheriff

A Marion County lawmaker is calling for a review of how Sheriff Frank Anderson is spending funds collected at the county's jails.

An investigation by 6News' Joanna Massee revealed that, so far this year, thousands in commissary money has been used to purchase tables at events or donated to various organizations, all at the sheriff's discretion.

"This seems to me to be what I would say or call a slush fund," said City-County Councilor Barbara Malone, a Republican member at-large, after reviewing records detailing the department's expenses.

Commissary money is contributed by inmates' friends, families and attorneys to pay for phone calls and purchases behind bars.

Records show that over the last two years, the department has used the money to purchase tables at events such as the Gleaners Food Bank's Harvest Moon Gala and the Fairbanks Circle of Hope Dinner, as well as events hosted by the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee.

"I have not seen these expenditures laid out quite like this, and certainly it raises and heightens my level of concern," Malone said.

She also questioned hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on legal fees with the department's law firm, Frost Brown Todd. One of the firm's attorneys, Kevin Murray, managed the election campaign of Anderson, a Democrat, Malone said.

Louis Dezelan, executive director of administration for the department, vigorously defended the department's spending

"I want you to know that we have an auditing firm, London Witte, that has been under contract for the purpose of giving us an independent audit of how we spend every dime of the commissary money," he said. "Twice a year they have to file a report with the City-County Council, so it has council approval."

Malone, who sits on the council's Administration and Finance Committee, said the issue is in need of review.

"I would like to -- I am not the chair of this particular committee -- I would like to discuss it with the committee and certainly we can have the sheriff's department to come and make a presentation to our committee," Malone said.

More Information:

  • 2009 Marion County Commissary Fund Expenditures
  • 2010 Marion County Commissary Fund Expenditures