Notre Dame law clinic employee accused of embezzlement

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An employee of the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center has been charged with 11 felony counts relating to what the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office says is a seven-year-long racketeering scheme in which the university found more than $199,000 was stolen.

Jennifer S. Ihns, 44, was charged Friday with level 5 felony corrupt business influence, nine counts of theft and a count of forgery as either Class D or Level 6 felonies. Prosecutors said Ihns “through a pattern of racketeering activity” enriched herself with more than 200 thefts and 95 forgeries of checks written to herself or to third parties that she cashed. Ihns was released from the St. Joseph County Jail after posting $10,000 bond and was scheduled to appear before a magistrate Tuesday afternoon.

Ihns was clinic administrator after beginning her career with the Clinical Law Center, formerly the Legal Aid Clinic, as a paralegal and office coordinator, investigators said in charging documents. The charges accuse Ihns, who had signatory authority over all clinic bank accounts, of writing nine checks she cashed in amounts from $725 to $1,500 between 2012 and June 2016. The checks were drawn on the Notre Dame Legal Aid Interest on Lawyers Trust Account fund and the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic operating expenses account.

Investigator David Newton of the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office wrote in a supplemental affidavit in support of probable cause that Notre Dame conducted an inquiry into the handling of the law center’s funds, which was provided to one assistant dean and one associate dean responsible for the clinic’s oversight. “Both administrators reviewed those documents the same day and immediately identified wide-spread evidence of improper handling of Clinic funds,” the affidavit says.

Ihns initially denied any knowledge, but admitted “I did it” when confronted with specific details of improprieties and altered checks, according to the affidavit. Ihns allegedly said she had a financial need and all the money was gone, estimating she’d been embezzling for about two years and was responsible for $20,000 to $30,000.

The university then undertook a seven-year lookback that “revealed evidence that Ihns stole over $199,000,” the affidavit said, and the evidence was turned over to authorities. “The breadth of all her illicit activities may never be fully known — but there are over 255 separate checks on separate days representing separate thefts of University/Clinic/Client funds over a seven-and-one-half-year period,” the affidavit says.

The document says no evidence was found of specific losses to any client, but Ihns’ recordkeeping causes ambiguity. “In those cases, the University paid those Clinic clients whatever funds appeared appropriate to ensure that Ihns’ conduct harmed only the university.”

A spokeswoman for the law school did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.  


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  1. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith ..

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.