HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. -- The Indiana Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit Tuesday afternoon to try to recover taxpayer money allegedly squandered by a former fire department treasurer.
Norman Burgess served as the treasurer for the Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department and controlled all financial accounts.
He was indicted on six counts of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in March 2018.
According to the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s office wants to recover the funds Burgess misappropriated along with additional fees.
Those funds include unauthorized payments, unauthorized cash withdrawals, unauthorized cash withdrawals from ATM machines, issuing and endorsing unauthorized checks paid to the order of “Cash” and “Petty Cash”, other unauthorized checks, unauthorized personal purchases made on the WTVF’s credit cards and failing to timely remit federal and state payroll taxes.
The state is asking a Hamilton County court to award them three times the actual loss, which is $574,125, according to the suit.
The state is seeking a total of $621,125.73 which includes that amount plus penalties, interest and the cost of the audit.
An audit was conducted in July 2016 after inconsistencies were discovered, according to Pamela Taylor, public information officer for Wayne Township in Hamilton County.
Burgess was asked for all financial records and failed to comply after being given two deadlines.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department was notified, and the case was referred to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
According to the indictment:
Burgess reportedly received nearly $60,000 in unauthorized payments between Jan. 2013 and Oct. 2016 from the department
In November 2013, he allegedly used the department's ATM card to pay $568 to Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens to pay for a relative's funeral
In July 2015, Burgess reportedly withdrew $1,500 from the department's checking account and deposited it into his personal account
Between March 2013 and August 2016, he allegedly wrote checks for cash and received $2,700 in unauthorized funds
Between January 2013 and November 2016, Burgess reportedly made 226 unauthorized cash withdrawals for approximately $71,000 that were deposited into either his personal account or kept in cash
Between August 2014 and October 2016, he allegedly used the department debit card to make 104 unauthorized purchases for nearly $4,000 from Amazon.com
Burgess resigned in October 2016. He had been with the Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department of Hamilton County Since August 2008 and had been clerk-treasurer since 2011.
The department’s financial systems have been reviewed, and new measures were put in place to ensure that no single member of the department has complete control over payroll and accounts payable again.