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Written by Indiana 105
Friday, June 28, 2013 |12:47 pm
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LAKE STATION, Ind. – Today Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office filed a lawsuit in Lake County to recover nearly $42,000 from a former extracurricular school treasurer who, according to an audit, misappropriated elementary school funds.
Named as defendant in the Attorney General’s lawsuit is Jane Woynaroski, who until March 2013 was extracurricular treasurer at Virgil I. Bailey Elementary School in Lake Station, Ind., where she was in charge of collecting school fees and depositing them.
According to a special investigative audit by the State Board of Accounts, Woynaroski failed to deposit $23,003.27 in elementary school funds into school accounts over a five-year period from July 2008 to March 2013. Because of the incomplete and inadequate condition of the financial records Woynaroski kept, the State Board of Accounts incurred another $18,843.83 in auditing costs reconstructing her transactions. In the lawsuit the Attorney General’s Office filed today, the State demands Woynaroski repay both amounts, a total $41,847.10.
“It is very disheartening to see the brazen violation of the public trust by this defendant in misappropriating elementary school funds and it sends a terrible signal to students and parents. My office will use all legal means at our disposal to compel this individual to repay what she owes the school system and the taxpayers,” Zoeller said.
The State Board of Accounts audit issued June 18 found that Woynaroski regularly failed to properly deposit fundraising money, textbook rental fees and other official receipts into the elementary school’s bank account. Examiners reviewing deposit slips found Woynaroski misappropriated school funds by not recording and depositing cash receipts. Additionally, Woynaroski replaced cash deposits with checks received for other purposes, which were not properly recorded.
Today in Lake County Superior Court 11 in Crown Point, Ind., the Attorney General’s Office, acting as collection agent for the State, filed a complaint to recover public funds against Woynaroski, seeking $41,847.10, plus attorneys’ fees and treble damages.
Zoeller’s office today also sought a temporary restraining order against Woynaroski to prevent her from selling, transferring or concealing financial assets such as two properties, three vehicles, bank accounts and retirement accounts. Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider granted the temporary restraining order, which is in effect until a court hearing July 10 on the Attorney General’s motion for a preliminary injunction, which would freeze Woynaroski’s assets indefinitely until the overall lawsuit is concluded. The purpose of the temporary restraining order and injunction is to preserve whatever assets are available so that the State is able to recover something later to reimburse the Lake Station Community Schools' treasury for the amount owed.
If the court eventually enters a civil judgment against Woynaroski, then the Attorney General’s Office can pursue a civil collections action against her to garnish wages, attach liens, or take other actions any creditor can take against a debtor to collect on a debt.
Also named in the Attorney General’s lawsuit are two bonding companies that provided surety bond coverage over the extracurricular treasurer position. Ohio Casualty Insurance Company provided $5,000 in bond coverage each year from July 2008 to July 2012, and Selective Insurance Company of America provided $10,000 in bond coverage for July 2012 to July 2013. By naming the bonding companies as defendants, the Attorney General’s Office hopes to recover the bond money to reimburse the school treasury. Any amount not covered by bonds, however, would be Woynaroski’s personal responsibility.
Decisions about filing criminal charges in audit cases are solely the jurisdiction of county prosecutors, not the Attorney General. Whether a public employee is civilly responsible for repaying misappropriated funds is a separate issue from whether they are criminally responsible for a loss. Through his role as collection agent for the State, the Attorney General has legal jurisdiction to file civil lawsuits to recover public funds based on State Board of Accounts certified audit reports.
Since January 2009, the Attorney General's Office has collected more than $2.4 million from former local government officials whom the State Board of Accounts found had misappropriated public money. Many of the acts of misappropriation occurred because an individual had the ability to divert or embezzle public funds with no oversight or supervision. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill that Attorney General Zoeller had recommended, House Enrolled Act 1333, which authorized a legislative study of requiring internal accounting controls – such as dual signatures – on public employees who handle public money. Zoeller noted that if two or more employees were required to sign off on large transactions involving public funds, then misappropriation and embezzlement would be more difficult for one individual to commit without being detected.
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Authorities are battling a reported car fire in Valparaiso. Tipsters reported the incident just before 1pm this afternoon near the Hampton Inn on Silhavy Road. Valparaiso Police Dispatch reports fire crews are on the scene and that the car fire is located on a side road between the hotel and the Raymond James Building. No further information is available at this time.
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11:40am CDT: Indiana State Police Lowell Post report lanes open now, but traffic was stopped earlier after a crash on the northbound side of Interstate 65 just south of Roselawn. The crash reportedly occurred on or near the overpass at mile marker 225. Police report significant delays are still being seen on the interstate through that area.
Phase two of the five-points roundabout project in Valparaiso is officially underway. City officials say the eastern half of the intersection of Calumet Avenue, Roosevelt Road and Vale Park, will be under construction, with the east approach of Vale Park and the east half of Calumet closed. Traffic on Calumet will be reduced to one lane in either direction, shifted to the western half of the roadway (currently the southbound lanes).
From the city:
NOTE REGARDING TRUCK TRAFFIC: Due to the narrowed lanes on Calumet during phases 2 and 3 of construction, trucks will NOT be permitted to travel through the intersection. A truck detour route will be posted (see below for detour route). Business owners in the area are encouraged to instruct delivery drivers ahead of time of these restrictions and direct them to the detour route shown, or plan for alternate routes that will better accommodate their individual business.
[Phase 2 Image from City of Valparaiso website]
More info plus detour map here: http://www.ci.valparaiso.in.us/index.aspx?NID=1243
Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann will oversee the agency and joins several state agencies already engaged in support of small business enterprise.
“Our teams at the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), Indiana Housing and Community Development (IHCDA), the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and the Indiana Office of Defense Development (IODD) are already providing outreach and opportunities for Indiana small businesses,” said Ellspermann. “We believe the synergies created by our cross collaborations will foster greater capacity building for individuals and their communities as they explore new ways to create jobs and expand.”
OSBE will focus on business consulting, specialty programming, and integrating universities, private sector business and government stakeholders. A newly-created business ombudsman will help to streamline state programs, licensing and permitting processes.
The agency’s overall goal is to develop an entrepreneurial climate for new talent and business opportunities, attracting both human and financial capital to Indiana.
Ellspermann has appointed Jacob Schpok as the Executive Director of the new agency. Schpok is a graduate of Ball State’s nationally recognized entrepreneurship program and has been with ISBDC since 2005, serving as director since 2011.
After multiple rounds of strong storms causing damage and power outages this week, some traffic signals remain out in Region.
At last report, these signals were out:
In Hammond, Calumet Avenue and 171st and 165th Streets
In Hobart, State Road 130 and County Line Road
The Statue of Liberty stands again at Gateway Park in downtown Gary. The eight-foot-tall replica, reportedly blown off its pedestal at 4th and Broadway during a wind storm in the summer of 2008, returned this Spring, thanks to the efforts of a number of people, including Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Hamady, whose mother, who worked at US Steel Gary Works just down the road, asked him if it was still there. Hamady tells the Times he worked with county and city officials to track the statue down, and asked Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson about it, who learned it was down for repairs and being stored in a building nearby. The copper statue is one of 200 Lady Liberty's Little Sisters distributed to cities around the state and the country between 1949 and 1951 by the Boy Scouts of America for the organization's 40th anniversary.
In northern Indiana, other Lady Liberty's Little Sisters statues were installed in Plymouth and South Bend outside the Marshall and St. Joseph County Courthouses.
[Photo/Restore Gary's Statue of Liberty Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Restore-Garys-Statue-of-Liberty/235612253142166 ]
Areas of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore national normally closed after sunset will remain open so the public can watch the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce “Fireworks on the Lakefront” event staged off the coast of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park on July 2.
The entire Lake Michigan shoreline in Porter County, east of the NIPSCO generating station, is within Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The park boundary extends 300 feet into the lake. The National Park Service says under current park regulations, this shoreline is closed to public use 30 minutes after sunset. In order to accommodate the fireworks event the shoreline from Dune Acres to Lake View will be open until 11:30 p.m. on July 2. Other park regulations, including the prohibition of the use of personal use fireworks on the beach and the prohibition of glass containers on the beach, will remain in effect.
More information from the National Park Service:
The following areas will remain open on July 2, 2013, until 11:30 p.m.:
· Wabash Avenue parking lots and restrooms
· Kemil access (East State Park Road) parking lots and restrooms
· Dunbar parking lot and restroom
· Lake View parking lot and restroom
· Beach below the toe of the dune and park waters from the west end of West Road in Dune Acres to Lake View
All other closures and use limits in the 2013 Superintendent’s Compendium and 36 CFR remain unchanged. The public closure regulations remain in effect for all other areas of the park. The complete set of park regulations can be found on the park website www.nps.gov/indu/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm
There are no fees charged for parking in National Park Service parking lots, but, parking is extremely limited and lots are expected to fill long before sunset.
National Park Service personnel will be on duty during the event to provide law enforcement, emergency medical services, crowd control, parking management, and maintenance of National Park Service areas. The National Park Service is supporting this event by waiving the normal Special Use Permit requirements, including fees and cost recovery charges.
If the fireworks event is rained out and rescheduled, the park’s open hours will not change on July 2, and the regulations as amended will apply to the rain date of July 5, 2013.
[Photo/Duneland Chamber of Commerce http://chestertonchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/fireworks-on-the-lakefront-1204 ]
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