Ex-township trustee who stole $270K ordered to pay $150 a month to taxpayers

Prosecutors take Sandra Arthur to court

MORGAN COUNTY, Ind.-- The former Ashland Township trustee appeared in court Tuesday to face accusations she’s not paying back enough of the $270,000 in taxpayer money she stole.

Sandra Norman, who now goes by the name Sandra Arthur, pleaded guilty to theft and official misconduct in 2013 and agreed to pay restitution to the taxpayers she was supposed to serve.

Current Ashland Township trustee Jeanne Walters took over the office following Arthur’s arrest and said Arthur has only paid $2,442 and has a remaining balance of $267,558.

Walters said Arthur was supposed to be paying the township $100 a month, but that’s often not been the case.

“It's dwindled down to $24, and one was $30 and I just think she should stand up to what she was told to do," Walters said.

Walters said their fire department suffered as a result of Arthur’s actions, as well as the taxpayers who did not receive poor relief.

“We’re now back to being financially secure, but it’s the principle,” Walters said. “I think (getting the money back) is justice.”

Arthur had “no comment” to say to Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney as she headed into court Tuesday, which was the same response Kenney received in 2013 from Arthur.

Morgan County deputy prosecutor Bob Cline said Arthur should have paid a lot more over the past five years.

"It's about equal to one fountain drink a day, and I really don't think that's enough," said Cline.

The hearing, which lasted less than an hour, called Arthur’s income and expenses into question.

Arthur lives in Fort Branch in Gibson County making close to minimum wage, and maintains she has no cable, internet and doesn’t eat out meals.

However, Cline criticized Arthur for spending more than $400 a month on a vehicle and said she could work more than 35-40 hours a week she’s currently working.

Arthur said she’s also suffered from knee and foot problems that have made it difficult to work at times, and said she also helps her daughter with her baby.

“Do you see the irony that you’re willing to help your daughter, but the money you stole came from poor relief?” said Cline.

Arthur did not have a response to Cline’s question about helping her daughter out financially.

Prosecutors requested Arthur pay $150 a month in restitution to Ashland Township, and the judge agreed.

“You must be accountable,” Superior Court Judge Pete Foley said to Arthur.

Arthur did not answer Call 6 Investigates after court when we asked if she’ll pay the $150 a month, but she told the court it will be tough at times.

“It would be a stretch, but if that’s what the court orders, that’s what I have to do,” Arthur said.

Prosecutors say the taxpayers deserve more than what they’re getting.

"The township is a small township and every nickel counts,” Cline said. “This is a part of Morgan county that is very rural very few families and the impact per family is a pretty good size. "

If Arthur doesn’t pay the required amount she could go back to prison, because she’s on probation for the next three years and not paying could be considered a probation violation.

Sandra Arthur also has to deal with a civil judgment against her obtained by the Indiana Attorney General’s office for $816,753.

The AG’s office is still working to collect that money as well.

As Call 6 Investigates reported in 2010, the township has been plagued with poor record keeping and other financial problems.

Arthur’s mother, ex-trustee Dorothy Brummett, resigned in 2010 after exhausting the township’s poor relief.

The Indiana State Board of Accounts, the state agency that audits local government, plans to audit Ashland Township later this year.

The current Ashland Township trustee said the township is “in the black” to the tune of “six figures.”

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