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City court judge accused of theft, suspended

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A Knox County City Court judge was suspended today following the filing of five theft charges against the judge Tuesday. The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed the "Notice of Criminal Charges and Request for Suspension," No. 42S00-0910-JD-441, with the Indiana Supreme Court after learning of the charges.

The Supreme Court suspended non-attorney Bicknell City Court Judge David Andrew Moreland with pay effective today pursuant to Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 25(V)(A). The suspension continues until further order from the high court.

The Knox County prosecutor filed the five Class D felony theft charges against Judge Moreland alleging he stole more than $21,000 since taking the bench Jan. 1, 2008. The judge is accused of knowingly exerting unauthorized control over cash payments that resolved failures to appear and restore drivers' licenses, payments for infraction tickets written by the Bicknell Police Department but not recorded with the city court, and cashed checks from the Bicknell City Court without authorization. His wife, Cindy, is also facing five felony theft charges; she is the clerk of the court.

The alleged theft was discovered in August after John Bennington of the Indiana State Board of Accounts began auditing records from Jan. 1, 2008 to mid-2009 and found discrepancies. Bennington believes the missing money can be channeled to the judge and his wife, according to the probable cause affidavit. Judge Moreland was the only one with a key to a lock box that contained the money, receipts, and citations ordered, and he was responsible for posting the receipts into the city's cash book.

According to the Indiana State Police probable cause affidavit, Judge Moreland said he never stole any money but admitted he had taken some money with the intention of paying it back. He said the money wasn't for gambling or drugs, but he used it because he was about to lose his house, and had unpaid medical and credit card bills, but he was vague about his mortgage and bills. He would take the money before he made a receipt.

In the affidavit, Judge Mooreland admitted to writing at least one of the checks for his house payments, and his wife wrote the others. Cindy was also vague about the missing money but also claimed they intended to pay it back.

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