Former Clark Co. sheriff Noel charged with 15 felonies related to ghost employment

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Former Clark County sheriff Jamey Noel has been charged with 15 felonies alleging ghost employment, corrupt business influence and obstruction of justice, among other charges.

According to the Indiana State Police, which is investigating the case, Noel has been charged with one count of Level 5 felony corrupt business influence; two counts of Level 5 felony theft; three counts of Level 6 felony theft; four counts of Level 6 felony ghost employment; four counts of Level 6 felony official misconduct; and one count of Level 6 felony obstruction of justice.

Noel was arrested Wednesday and entered his initial appearance in Clark Circuit Court 1 on Thursday, according to ISP. A cash bond of $75,000 was set, which Noel posted Thursday, according to WDRB.

According to a 16-page probable cause affidavit dated Monday, Indiana State Police Lt. Jeffrey Hearon was assigned to the investigation on June 13 after current Clark County Sheriff Scottie Maples reported several criminal allegations of official misconduct against Noel.

Noel’s booking photo. (Photo from scottcountysheriff.org)

Noel, 52, served as Clark County sheriff from January 2015 to December 2022.

Maples had been Noel’s chief deputy for several years being elected in November 2022, WDRB reported.

Noel was term-limited and could not run against last year.

Hearon contacted Chief Deputy Sheriff Mark Grube for specific allegations and witness information.

Grube informed Hearon of allegations that Noel had assigned four Clark County Jail maintenance employees to work on his rental property; private business buildings, including include New Chapel EMS and Utica Township Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, of which Noel is chief; pole barn; cars; and his private residence, all while being on duty.

Grube identified the four employees, and Hearon traveled to the Clark County Jail to meet with them.

He interviewed Clark County Jail maintenance supervisor Troy “Michael” Bowling, who said Noel approached him around 2018-2019 and inquired if he would be willing to work on Noel’s private residence on weekends or after work. Bowling said things eventually changed and Noel began to request that he and other maintenance workers work, while on duty, on Noel’s private residence, rental properties, father in-law’s residence, pole barn and not-for profit businesses.

Hearon later interviewed Clark County Jail maintenance employee Donald Jones, who said Noel hired him in 2015.

Jones said he frequently accompanied Bowling to work on various jobs for Noel. He also told Hearon that he felt compelled to work on Noel’s private properties because his wife was ill and he needed health insurance.

Hearon also interviewed Brent Fisher, who said Noel hired him in 2017. Fisher said he frequently accompanied Bowling and other maintenance workers to Noel’s rental property occupied by his father-in-law.

Clark County vehicle fleet maintenance employee Rodney Whobrey told Hearon that he was hired by Noel in 2017 and was assigned to maintain the sheriff’s department vehicles. He was initially assigned a five-day work week and was asked to work on Saturdays to maintain Noel’s private vehicle collection. Whobrey received checks and a federal W-2 from the Utica Volunteer Fire Department for his time working on Noel’s private vehicle collection.

Noel also had Whobrey pick up and transport cars he purchased while Whobrey was on duty for the sheriff’s department. Whobrey would often drive out of state while on duty using the jail’s truck, trailer and gas to pick up vehicles for Noel’s private collection.

Whobrey would also transport some vehicles to auctions for resale, and many of the vehicles were titled as owned by the Utica Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Further, according to Whobrey, Noel hired a contractor to build the shell of a large pole barn on his property in Utica. He then requested that Whobrey and Bowling pour and spread the concrete floor in 2018 while they were on duty.

Whobrey also installed numerous car lifts to house and store Nole’s car collection in the pole barn. Whobrey said Noel’s car collection was approximately 100 vehicles.

Along with all the work Whobrey was doing while on the clock for Clark County Sheriff’s Department or Utica Township Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, he was given a credit card to purchase repair parts for many of the vehicles. The credit card was the property of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, and the funds were from the Sheriff’s Commissary Fund.

In addition to being the chief executive officer of the Utica Township Volunteer Fire Fighters Associations, Hearon wrote that he found several assumed business names associated with the association — including New Chapel Emergency Medical Services, Utica Security Group and New Chapel Volunteer Fire Company — in which Noel is the registered agent.

Hearon also discovered that Noel was the fire chief of New Albany Township Fire Department, which had contracted with New Chapel Fire & EMS INC. to provide fire service to the Floyd County New Albany Fire Protection District.

Through an offline search from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Hearon found there were approximately 133 vehicles registered to Utica Township Volunteer Fire Department and New Chapel EMS.

A review of the registered vehicles indicated several cars and SUVs appeared inconsistent with a not-for-profit fire department and EMS business. That included Cadillacs, Camaros and a Corvette, among other high-end vehicles.

On Aug. 16, Hearon formed four teams of detectives, uniform troopers and State Board of Account investigators and served four search warrants at Noel’s residence, his pole barn and Utica Township Volunteer Fire Fighters Association Station 1 and 2.

Detective Chris Hanson oversaw the pole barn scene and observed a camera doorbell next to the entry door. He tried to find Noel by ringing and knocking on the door.

Noel eventually answered via the microphone of the doorbell system. Hanson informed him that he had a search warrant and Noel agreed to come to the scene and open the barn.

Noel arrived at the pole barn and was read the search warrant, which included his cellphone. Before Hanson seized the phone, it had been factory reset and been wiped clean.

Detectives found seven vehicles registered to the Utica Township Volunteer Fire Fighters Association inside and outside of the pole barn. The vehicles were mixed with about 40 personally owned vehicles belonging to Noel.

Whobrey said there were other vehicles owned by Noel or the Utica at the  home of Noel’s daughter’s, Kasey Noel. After obtaining a search warrant, detectives found two vehicles belonging to the Utica.

A total of 30 vehicles were seized.

Further, after an examination of bank records associated with Noel, Utica and other affiliated businesses, several suspicious transactions and patterns appeared.

According to the probable cause affidavit, multiple business names appeared in an attempt at “layering” to make the process of tracking the money more difficult. There was also a pattern of purchasing and selling dozens of vehicles owned by Utica and its affiliated businesses.

Additionally, there were multiple instances of prior association-owned assets that were sold or traded resulting in zero return to the association and financial gain to Noel. For example, on May 3, 2021, Noel traded a Utica-owned 2020 Chevrolet Corvette valued at $92,000 for a 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 450 and registered it in his name.

Noel was taken into custody Wednesday without incident and with his attorney present, according to ISP. He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center before being transferred to and incarcerated in the Scott County Detention Center, where he posted bond.

According to state police, the investigation is still ongoing.

A jury trial has been scheduled for May 6, 2024, with Special Judge Larry Medlock presiding. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Jan. 8.

“Mr. Noel entered a plea of not guilty and we look forward to trial on May 6th,” one of Noel’s attorneys, Larry O. Wilder, said. “The jury will hear and see all of the unfiltered evidence at that time, and they will make a decision based on the evidence. We will be well prepared and ready.”

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