BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. – A special prosecutor has been named in the case of the misappropriated taxpayer dollars from a volunteer fire department in Bartholomew County.
Brown County prosecutor Ted Adams said he received paperwork from the court appointing him as the special prosecutor.
As Call 6 Investigates reported, a State Board of Accounts audit found former treasurer Mathew Mathis misappropriated public funds at the Hope Volunteer Fire Department.
Mathis must repay $48,252.21 to the taxpayers, according to the audit.
Special prosecutor Ted Adams will determine whether to file any criminal charges against Mathis.
The Hope Fire Department is a 28-member fire department providing fire, rescue, and basic life support protection to residents in the town located northwest of Columbus along IN-9.
The audit found Mathis failed to deposit failed to deposit $7,081 in fundraiser proceeds from the 2015 fish fry.
Mathis also issued and signed checks to himself without proper documentation, including for a “clothing allowance,” even though Mathis and other firemen had already received their clothing allowance, according to the audit.
The State Board of Accounts found Mathis responsible for $31,905 in undocumented cash withdrawals made from April 15, 2015 to July 14, 2016.
The Indiana State Board of Accounts also requested Mathis reimburse the state of Indiana $4,611.21 for special investigation costs racked up due to sloppy bookkeeping practices.
State auditors criticized the fire department because the treasurer had no required oversight.
“Due to this lack of monitoring and segregation of duties, checks issued without supporting documentation, undocumented cash withdrawals, failure to deposit the cash change fund, failure to deposit fundraiser proceeds, and payment of penalties and service charges, were able to occur and not be identified timely,” read the audit.
Call 6 Investigates was unable to reach Mathis for comment.
The State Board of Accounts forwarded the report to the Indiana Attorney General who can file a civil lawsuit and recoup the funds for the taxpayers.
Fire Chief Randy Wood told Call 6 Investigates Mathis was suspended pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
“If he’s convicted, he will be terminated,” said Wood.
Wood said they contacted the Indiana State Police to investigate the matter.
The fire chief said the agency has improved its financial procedures, and that a CPA now provides a monthly report on their books.
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