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Ex-wife ordered to return money husband stole from nonprofit

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A woman whose ex-husband committed suicide after his scheme to steal money from his employer unraveled must pay back to the company money she received from her husband during and after their marriage, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

Connie Landers challenged the Tippecanoe Superior Court’s ruling in favor of Wabash Center Inc., a not-for-profit that assists children with developmental disabilities and provides assistance for adults related to living and employment, that she must pay more than $1 million to the agency because her ex-husband stole more than $4 million from his employer.

Stephen McAninch worked for Wabash managing the nonprofit’s finances from 1986 until his death in 2009, during and after his marriage to Landers. He set up a fake company to divert money to and was able to conceal his actions because of his job duties. It wasn’t until an outside auditor in 2009 sought to confirm that the fictitious company actually completed work that Wabash paid for that the scheme was discovered. McAninch killed himself in October 2009, and a forensic accountant discovered that Landers had received some of the stolen money.

She argued that Wabash’s lawsuit, filed in April 2011 for unjust enrichment and other wrongs, should be barred by the statute of limitations because the agency didn’t act with reasonable diligence to discover the theft within the six-year statute of limitations. But there’s sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that Wabash acted with ordinary diligence, Senior Judge Randall T. Shepard wrote. McAninch kept false records and invoices, locked in a drawer in his office, and there was no reason to believe McAninch had created false minutes from board meetings. Previous outside audits didn’t raise any red flags.

There’s also evidence that Landers received stolen money. She estimated her ex-husband made around $150,000 a year, which included his “moonlighting” as she called it, which is above the salary McAninch earned. He also agreed in their divorce to pay her above the monthly amount required under the Indiana Child Support Guidelines, gave her $20,000 in the divorce, and paid for the home’s mortgage. Because he had also bought himself a boat, car and other items, he likely spent his own money on those items, meaning Landers received stolen money, the judges concluded in Connie S. Landers v. Wabash Center, Inc., 79A04-1204-CT-191.
 

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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