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State says ex-township trustee, investigator must repay $37K

Posted: 5:40 PM, Jan 28, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-28 17:40:20-05
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CARTHAGE — A newly released audit is raising questions about practices of two former Ripley Township employees in Rush County—the ex-township trustee Tara Hancock and former township investigator Jonathan Hancock.

The State Board of Accounts is asking the Hancocks to repay $37,159.25 in misappropriated or mismanaged taxpayer money.

The State Board of Accounts questioned $915 of the Hancocks’ phone and internet expenses that did not include documentation distinguishing township use from personal use.

Auditors criticized thousands of dollars in cash withdrawals.

“No evidence was provided to support the validity of these payments,” read the audit.

The State Board of Accounts also questioned $1,500 in expenses that did not have any documentation including a locksmith, a gazebo, cemetery care, snow and ice removal, mowing and maintenance.

Between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2018, Tara Hancock received $3,659.90 in excess salaries and Jonathan Hancock received $1,300 in excess salary.

Tara Hancock used her home as the township office and received $1,170 in excess of the office rent appropriated by the township board.

The township also racked up $3,029.50 in penalties and interest to the United States Treasury for failing to pay employer’s quarterly taxes due for tax periods in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The township also racked up a $365.42 late fee because a utility bill was not paid on time.

The State Board of Accounts also requested the Hancocks pay $4,329.96 for special investigation costs racked up by the state as a result of inadequate bookkeeping practices.

Indiana State Police conducted a criminal investigation into the case, the audit said.

No criminal charges have been filed, court records show.

“I received the audit this afternoon and it is under review,” said Rush County Prosecutor Phil Caviness.

Call 6 Investigates emailed and called the Hancocks and we are still waiting to hear back.

RTV6 also left messages for the current Ripley Township trustee, Andrew Ingersoll.

The Hancocks, who are listed in court records as having the same address, were also sued by Rushville Consolidated High School, but the case was dismissed in April 2019, records show.