During the Putnam County Commissioners' meeting Monday night, county attorney Scott Hoff read a short resignation letter from Sheriff Mark Frisbie -- the same one given to county clerk Marty Watts last Friday.
It simply reads, "It is with profound regret that I tender my resignation as Sheriff, effective immediately. I'm sure there will be questions concerning this matter and I defer all inquiries to my attorney Robert Hammerle." It is signed, "Respectfully, Mark T. Frisbie."
Frisbie had not surrendered his badge or any other sheriff's department property prior to the commissioners accepting the resignation. But Chief Deputy Virgil Lanning said he did expect them to be turned in following the commissioners' meeting.
County commissioners were not notified officially until Monday morning of Frisbie's resignation., they said. However, they did hear from a number of people in the community.
"I've never had a cell phone go dead from the number of calls," said Beck. "I got so many calls my phone battery died."
Following the announcement of Frisbie's resignation, Lanning was introduced as the interim sheriff. Lanning has been Chief Deputy for about one year and has been in law enforcement for more than five years.
Lanning was out of town on a family emergency and did not learn about Frisbie's resignation until Monday morning, he said. He met with Hoff to go over the details of his temporary term.
He assured commissioners Gene Beck, Kristina Warren and Jim Baird that the department was fully functional and all patrols were taking place without interruption.
"I know there have been lots of rumors about guys resigning. So far that is not true. We are handling regular patrols and regular shifts. I have some plans I want to put into place. I know it's a short time, but there are some things I want to change. I'll be talking to you (commissioners) later about them," said Lanning.
No one in the audience said anything about Frisbie during the meeting. Television media were there along with the Banner Graphic covering the meeting, but no statements or comments were made until after the meeting.
County Commissioners Beck and Warren voiced concern for public safety and said that the County Attorney met with Lanning earlier and discussed jail operations, the upcoming budget hearings and claims process.
"We are concerned about the safety and welfare of all the people of Putnam County," said Beck.
Putnam County Republican party chairman Larry Sutton told the Banner Graphic last Saturday that there will be a caucus to elect an interim sheriff. The party has 30 days from the resignation for all 29-precinct committeepersons to meet, and the majority of them will vote to decide who will serve the remainder of Frisbie's term.
After the meeting, Lanning had little information to give the media.
"I just don't know," he said in answer to questions about Frisbie. He did state that he does not intend to apply for the sheriff's position.
"I'm just not political," he said.
The resignation comes after a State Board of Accounts audit that found $4,400 in missing or misspent money by the sheriff, which included airfare, a $600 limousine tour of Washington D.C., $100 lunch at a Hooter's restaurant and campaign materials.
Frisbie paid back the $4,400 in December 2007 out of his own pocket at the request of the officials at the State Board of Accounts.
In the December 2007 story in the Banner Graphic, it was reported that state auditors found problems in the Putnam County sheriff's Department Commissary Fund every year Frisbie had been sheriff. Under his watch, spending from the account more than doubled and past State Board of Accounts audits showed that Frisbie took at least two years to correct most problems investigators pointed out in the Commissary Fund and other Sheriff's Department accounts.
At that time, Frisbie explained his slow response to State Board of Accounts findings on inconsistent advice from auditors. He also said the ballooning Commissary Fund expenditures reflected the growing costs of law enforcement equipment.
Only the State Board of Accounts has oversight of the Commissary Fund. However, the sheriff is required to make reports to the County Council twice a year.
In April 2008, the investigation into Frisbie was handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis.