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Friday, June 14
The Indiana Daily Student

County treasurer’s credit card expenses prompt court inquiry

The Monroe County Circuit Court is seeking a special prosecutor to look into questionable travel expenses charged to the county by Treasurer Catherine Smith.

Smith is currently running for the office of Monroe County sheriff.

The Monroe County Auditor notified the commissioner’s office of reimbursement claims that were a cause for concern, Chalfant said, for trips made to Indianapolis by Smith and Treasurer Chief Deputy Hans Huffman.

Smith submitted a reimbursement claim of $414.19 for hotel and meal expenses in Indianapolis for an Association of Indiana Counties conference Feb. 4 and 5 that was cancelled the day before it was slated to take place.

“As per personnel policy, all employees who are seeking reimbursement must strive to incur the lowest possible amount of expense,” Chalfant said.

The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office requested a special prosecutor as soon as it was notified about Smith’s reimbursement claims, Monroe County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bob Miller said, citing Smith’s candidacy for sheriff, status as an elected public official and affiliation with the Democratic Party, which is the same as the elected prosecuting attorney.

Smith also requested reimbursement for the AIC conference, which was rescheduled for Feb. 19 and 20, amounting to $287.07 for hotel and meal expenses plus $39.98 for car charges.

“Only expenses which are reasonably necessary in order to conduct county business and which are incurred while in travel status shall be reimbursable,” according to the Monroe County Personnel Policy Handbook.

Expenses claimed by Smith on Feb. 3 and 18 do not meet the criteria in the policy handbook, according to a letter to Smith from the Monroe County Commissioners’ President Patrick Stoffers.

The county will not reimburse employees for meals unless authorization is given for reimbursement of lodging, according to the policy handbook.

Smith cited a letter from Ronald G. Watson, First Financial Bank vice president of treasury management, claiming she had attended an annual meeting Feb. 3 to discuss treasury management issues, according to Stoffers’ letter.

Watson told Chalfant he did not meet with Smith and Huffman that day.
Smith also cited a letter from MainSource Bank that claimed Smith and Huffman attended a morning meeting Feb. 4 that concluded at 12:30 p.m.

Chalfant emailed Melanie Schlegelmilch at Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting, according to Stoffers’ letter. They had met her on Feb. 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Monroe County Circuit Court will choose a special investigator to look into whether Smith committed any crimes, Miller said, but as of Monday, one had not been assigned to the case.

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