Hill seeking $183K after ex-Whiteland fire official’s theft

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Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is seeking more than $180,000 in restitution from the former secretary-treasurer of the Whiteland Volunteer Fire Department after she pleaded guilty to misappropriating public funds for personal use.

Hill filed the civil complaint against Divonna Hendrickson on Monday, seeking $183,718.92 in damages, plus court costs and attorneys’ fees. Hendrickson pleaded guilty last November to five felony theft-related counts after she was accused of stealing $61,239.64 from the Whiteland Volunteer Fire Department.

Specifically, according to Hill’s complaint, Hendrickson received $54,018.56 in authorized checks from the fire department and used the department’s credit card to spend $6,430.08 on personal purchases, including groceries, personal care items, children’s clothes and toys. She also endorsed checks made out to cash totaling $791, including a $600 check dated April 8, 2011, a $66 check dated May 25, 2012, and a $125 check dated Nov. 29, 2016.

The misappropriations were discovered as part of a State Board of Accounts audit, covering the period from Jan. 1, 2010 to Aug. 31, 2017. According to an SBOA special investigation report, the town of Whiteland became aware of improper use of the fire department’s funds and sought an audit.

The complaint says Hendrickson’s actions were part of “systematic violations of a position of trust by a public official” and constituted misappropriation and diversion of public funds, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, dishonest acts, breached fidelity of duties by a public official, overt acts, fraud and other breaches of public duty.

“We must always hold accountable public employees who illegally siphon money for themselves from the public treasury,” Hill said in a Tuesday statement announcing the complaint.

In addition to the funds Hendrickson stole, Hill is seeking recovery of $19,534.41 in costs incurred by the SBOA. He’s also asked the Johnson Superior Court to award the state $80,774.05 from Arch Insurance Co., which issued a commercial crime policy to Johnson County covering county officials and employees during the audit period.

The case in Johnson Superior Court 1 is State of Indiana ex rel. Curtis Hill, Attorney General of Indiana v. Divonna Hendrickson, Arch Insurance Company, 41D01-1904-PL-000061.

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