Theft of public funds bill awaits Holcomb’s signature

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Communities seeking restitution from public servants who personally profited from taxpayer dollars might have a new way to recoup stolen funds.

Under Indiana House Bill 1192, public funds stolen by government officials could be reimbursed to taxpayers and communities from the perpetrator’s pension fund. The bill is geared toward providing an option for relief in the event that all other avenues of refund are exhausted and unrecoverable.

Under current law, if public servants at question are members of the Public Employees’ Retirement Fund or Teachers' Retirement Fund, those accounts can be garnished to repay taxpayers.

“This bill brings all other state pensions under the same law to ensure that accountability,” said Senate sponsor Eric Koch, R-Bedford.

Author Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, said the bill’s chief goal is to deter the theft of public funds.

Although successful thus far, the bill originally included harsher language that would require at least 30 days of prison time for any government official who commits theft of $750 or more in public funds. However, Lauer removed that language early in the legislative session. 

Indiana Senators approved the bill in its current form 46-0 Monday, sending it to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk.

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