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Charges filed in Reelsville Water theft investigation

Monday, July 3, 2006

Theft charges have been filed against the former treasurer of the Reelsville Water Authority.

Putnam County Prosecutor Timothy Bookwalter is charging Larry Wayne Sanders, 60, with Class D felony theft for allegedly stealing $29,400.25 from the water utility while acting as its treasurer.

"I was given the audit from the State Board of Accounts in June of this year, and I requested Sgt. Scott Stockton of the Indiana State Police to conduct a criminal investigation," Bookwalter said Monday. "He has now completed his investigation and given me a probable cause affadavit to file criminal charges. I commend the board of the water company for promptly notifying the State Board of Accounts," Bookwalter said.

The penalty for a Class D felony is up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The charge filed states that Sanders, who now lives in Richmond Hill, Ga., took the funds between Jan. 1, 2003 and July 19, 2005. That information comes from the state audit, which identified 23 unauthorized checks totaling $26,966.07 issued to Sanders. Unauthorized purchases with the water authority's credit card totaled $1,213.06, while an additional $1,221.12 was reimbursed for travel expenses that were not documented with receipts or invoices.

The loss of funds came to $29,400.25. The cost of the audit was $4,236.75, bringing the total loss to the water authority of $33,637.

Stockton also reported that when the members of the water authority became suspicious of Sanders' financial transactions in July 2005, they contacted authorities and also met with Sanders to confront him with their suspicious of theft. The affadavit states that Sanders made incriminating statements to board members, was terminated and his keys to the building were taken.

"I found absolutely no evidence or indication of wrongdoing on the part of the Reelsville Water Authority board," Stockton told the BannerGraphic Monday morning. When they found out about this in 2005, they took the appropriate action."

Stockton, an investigator in ISP's white collar crime division, said such financial investigations can take a long time to complete.

"Working financial cases can sometimes take several months or even years," Stockton said. "You have to realize, these auditors with the State Board of Accounts are licensed CPAs who are doing a certified audit, and once they sign off on it, they can't change it or add to it."

Obtaining the correct bank records can also be time-consuming, Sgt. Stockton said.

He credited Prosecutor Bookwalter with taking quick action once the state filed its report.

"He contacted me within 48 hours of receiving the information, so he took appropriate action as soon as he could," Stockton said.

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