Audit: Township trustee used taxpayer money for gym membership, food, gas

Heather Cohee resigned March 2012 amid criticism

MONROE COUNTY, Ind. - A state audit just released reveals new accusations against former Benton Township trustee Heather Cohee.
The State Board of Accounts asked Cohee to repay $35,942.36 in undocumented payments including credit card purchases for a gym membership, gas and food.

Cohee resigned in March 2012 amid criticism that she hired her husband and daughter to perform tens of thousands of dollars of work for the township without proper documentation.   

According to two audits from State Board of Accounts, Cohee now owes more than $131,000 to the taxpayers.

The Attorney General’s Office filed a civil suit against Cohee in an attempt to recoup taxpayer money, but spokesperson Bryan Corbin told RTV6 Cohee has yet to repay anything.

“Since the misappropriation alleged in the second audit is so similar to the conduct alleged in the first audit, it is very likely that the Attorney General’s Office will amend its original complaint to seek the additional $36,000 owed,” Corbin said in an email to RTV6.

Cohee released a response to the state , disputing some of the allegations.

"The gym membership was for every Benton Township employee and family member that wanted it,” read the statement. “You will find that the board passed it in the monthly meeting. The deal with the gym that anyone who wanted to use it would come in and add to my membership"

Current trustee Michelle Bright told the State Board of Accounts the township continues to deal with financial and legal ramifications as a result of Cohee’s actions, including issues with the Internal Revenue Service and severe revenue shortfalls.

“We estimate it will take several years before the township is able to fully recover,” read the statement from Trustee Bright.

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