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Plea deal rejected for ex-Indiana county auditor

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 Lawyers are reworking an agreement under which a former county auditor in southern Indiana was expected to plead guilty to criminal charges of wrongly paying personal expenses with county-issued credit cards.

The Owen County judge overseeing the case against former Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman rejected a proposed plea agreement during a court hearing Monday.

Gerstman, 44, faces felony counts of theft and official misconduct related to some $11,000 in charges during 2010 and 2011 for clothing, travel to New York and Florida and her children's school tuition.

The penalties in the proposed plea agreement weren't released, but special prosecutor Barry Brown said the judge wanted Gerstman to face greater punishment.

"She wants the defendant to take more accountability for her actions," Brown told The Herald-Times.

Gerstman is a Democrat who was elected in 2008 and served a four-year term in the county that includes Bloomington.

Defense attorney Ron Chapman said he submitted a new proposed plea agreement to Brown later Monday.

Chapman said Gerstman has paid all of the county credit card bills and was working to repay $3,600 in fees the county has had to pay during the investigation. He said he hopes Gerstman can avoid a felony conviction.

"Having seven felonies pending against her has pretty much kept her out of the job market," he said. "No one will hire her, and she is the sole support for her two children."

Judge Lori Quillen scheduled a new plea hearing for Sept. 19.

The misspending charges include the use of county credit cards to pay $1,800 in school tuition for Gerstman's children and nearly $2,600 for airfare, hotel accommodations and a seminar in New York City that Gerstman never attended.

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