Two former Marion County traffic court bailiffs have been charged with dozens of felonies in a ticket-fixing scandal, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Thursday.
Evelyn Hughes and Carnetta Arthur were arrested Wednesday as a result of a report made by Marion Superior Courts to the prosecutor’s grand jury division. Hughes was charged with 49 counts, including bribery as Level 5 and Class C felonies, forgery as Level 6 and Class C felonies, and official misconduct as Level 6 or Class D felonies. Arthur faces 14 counts, including Level 6 or Class C felony forgery and Level 6 or Class D felony official misconduct.
Marion Superior Court administrator Emily VanOsdol said in a statement the court could not comment on pending legal matters and noted Arthur and Hughes were no longer employed by the courts.
Hughes is accused of taking cash to make several infraction or ordinance violation cases go away in Marion Superior Traffic Court from early 2012 through March 2015. She is accused of forging the signatures of former Traffic Court Judges William Young, James Joven or current Traffic Court Judge Marcel Pratt, or imputing computer codes to dismiss cases or vacate those judges’ rulings.
The charges against Arthur are similar, though there are no charges that she accepted bribes to fix traffic court cases.
A special judge will be appointed in the cases because of the defendants’ former employment with Marion Superior Courts. According to online court records, 10 protective orders have been issued in the case against Hughes and six against Arthur. Initial hearings for both defendants are set for Thursday afternoon.
According to a detective’s probable cause affidavit, Hughes was terminated from traffic court in March 2015. The affidavit alleges witnesses said they gave acquaintances sums of $180 to $429 to provide to Hughes, who then vacated judgments or dismissed cases. The affidavit said Arthur also vacated several unpaid judgments, including four of Hughes’ traffic court cases.
The bailiffs also are accused of approving insurance waivers and dismissing cases for motorists who in some cases had their licenses suspended by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, according to the affidavit.
“During their time as bailiffs, they used their positions to forge judge’s signatures on documents, dismissed cases they were not authorized to dismiss, altered court records they were not authorized to alter, removed fees owed to Marion County/City of Indianapolis without authorization, and forwarded forged court documents to the Indiana BMV to clear driving records of suspensions and/or reinstatement/insurance fees without authorization, knowing the Indiana BMV would rely on such documents,” the probable cause affidavit says.
The prosecutor’s office noted that in a separate and unrelated case, a former bailiff at the Arrestee Processing Center of the Marion County Jail is accused of accessing law enforcement databases for personal use without proper authority or permission. Crystal Jones was charged December 29 with seven counts of official misconduct as Level 6 and Class D felonies and two misdemeanor counts of computer trespass.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Jones is accused of accessing information from multiple law enforcement databases for nonofficial reasons without permission or consent in the performance of her official duties, and providing that information to defendants. Jones is also accused of using her official access to complete a bail interview without permission or consent in which she knew the defendant and provided false information knowing that information would be considered by a judge for determination of a bond.
Hancock Superior Judge Dan E. Marshall has been appointed to hear Jones’ case due to her prior employment with Marion County Superior Court.