YORKTOWN, Ind. – A Delaware County judge ruled Tuesday Yorktown Clerk-Treasurer Beth Neff can keep her job, despite state efforts to oust her from her elected position.
Judge Marianne Vorhees said Neff “is making mistakes”, but those mistakes are not enough to remove her from office.
The state’s lawsuit alleged Neff has refused, on numerous occasions, to perform her duties as clerk-treasurer including balancing the town’s financial books.
Prosecutors argued Neff also failed to follow the direction of the Indiana State Board of Accounts and, despite being cited in audits, continued to post errors to town financial accounts and records.
In her decision handed down Tuesday, Judge Vorhees said prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Neff was negligent and neglectful in her duties.
“Neff is working as the clerk, carrying out numerous duties as clerk, not only the financial responsibilities,” read the judge’s opinion. “Clearly this situation does not involve a complete failure and refusal to do the clerk’s duties.”
To remove Neff from office based on the facts presented would violate the Indiana Constitution, said Judge Vorhees.
It’s unclear if prosecutors will appeal the decision.
Monthly water and sewer bond interest transfers have not been recorded in a timely manner, which amounted to $127,472.35 in errors to date that have not been corrected on the town’s records, according to the lawsuit.
The Town of Yorktown has had to hire an independent firm to pay almost $70,000 to do the work Neff was elected to do, prosecutors said.
Neff has been in office since 2007, records show.
On Tuesday, Neff's attorney released a statement:
“We are pleased to receive this decision from the Court,” said Jeff Heinzmann of Heinzmann Law Office, who represented Neff in the proceedings. “The Court rightly applied Indiana precedents which hold that impeachment is reserved for only the most extreme and extraordinary occasions. It is our hope that
Ms. Neff and the Yorktown Town Council, all chosen by the voters, will now move forward working together to resolve the challenges brought to light in this proceeding.”
An Indiana law dating back to 1909 says public officials who fail to perform their duties be removed from office, but it’s believed to have happened only one time.
A judge removed Ashland Township Trustee Sandra Norman from office in 2013 following accusations she failed to file annual reports, as required by law.