The Indiana Attorney General is using a new public-accountability law to freeze the assets of the Brownstown clerk-treasurer accused of overpaying herself more than $360,000 in taxpayer money.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Monday he obtained a temporary restraining order in Jackson Circuit Court to prevent Rebecka Ann Fee from disposing or transferring any financial assets during the embezzlement investigation.
A State Board of Accounts field examiner auditing the town's finances between January 2006 and October 2009 found Fee had allegedly doctored computer records to conceal the misuse from town council members when they reviewed the claims. Fee, who handled Brownstown government payroll, had allegedly been overpaying herself by $1,000 to $4,000 biweekly.
The temporary restraining order is the first use of House Enrolled Act 1514, a public-accountability law. Under the law, the State Board of Accounts alerts the AG's office to potential fraud on public funds much earlier than before, allowing the attorney general to intervene in court to prevent suspects from hiding or getting rid of assets.
Zoeller is seeking a pre-judgment attachment of Fee's financial assets - including a personal bank account and proceeds of a sale of a house - and garnishment of her wages. A hearing has been scheduled on the motion for Dec. 14 before Judge William Vance. Once the State Board of Accounts' final audit is complete, the AG's office plans to file a civil collections lawsuit and seek a judgment against Fee to recover public funds from her.
According to the attorney general's office, Fee is still the elected clerk-treasurer, but she hasn't performed the duties of the office since October. An interim clerk-treasurer has been appointed.