Alexander pleads guilty, info arises about more stolen funds

Thursday, November 29, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- George Alexander, the former Putnam County Sheriff's Department employee who was arrested in May, pled guilty in federal court Wednesday to stealing $45,500 in federal grant money as investigators alluded to other funds they believe he took -- as much as $80,000 all told.

Justice Department Special Agent Jill Semmerling testified that her investigation found Alexander applied for two federal grants for tactical gear and bulletproof vests for the Sheriff's Department - one in April 2005 and one in July 2006.

When the Justice Department deposited the funds into a sheriff's department bank account, Alexander withdrew the money and put it into his own accounts - receiving $2,000 and $1,500 in cash, as well, she said.

Alexander used the money to buy clothing, jewelry, furniture, food at restaurants and a vacation to Treasure Island, Fla. He also gave money to his daughter and her hair salon, Semmerling said.

The federal agent said she also found that Alexander had stolen other moneys while he worked at the sheriff's department and was about to detail those findings, though Judge Larry McKinney cut her off and told her to save that testimony for the sentencing hearing.

After the hearing, Semmerling and Assistant U.S. Attorney James Warden, who is prosecuting the case, would not talk about the additional money they believe Alexander stole.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Scott Stockton, who led the state's investigation of Alexander and the sheriff's department, said he could not give details about the other alleged thefts, but said the amount of money Alexander embezzled "far exceeds" the $45,000 he is charged with stealing.

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said federal investigators told him they believe Alexander's theft totals about $80,000.

Alexander does not have a plea agreement, though his attorney, William Marsh, said he hopes the early guilty plea will lead the judge to hand down a lighter sentence, which could include Alexander serving his time in community corrections, rather than in a federal prison. Alexander is currently being held at the Volunteers of America in Indianapolis.

Warden, however, said he believes federal sentencing guidelines will require Alexander to do hard time.

Alexander faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

The 59-year-old former ombudsman was short and matter-of-fact in his responses to McKinney's questions.

He told the judge that he waived his right to a jury trial and said he was guilty as charged.

The first sentencing hearing is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 14.

In his post as ombudsman, Alexander was responsible for purchasing new equipment, applying for grants, managing personnel and fielding input from the public. He was officially doing the work on a volunteer basis, though Sheriff Mark Frisbie paid him $18,000 per year out of his Commissary Fund.

Rockville, Ind., police arrested him in May in Parke County after several days on the run, during which time he called the BannerGraphic office and told reporters that he stole the money under Frisbie's direction.

Neither Marsh nor Warden would say whether it is likely that anyone else will be charged for the thefts.

Alexander still faces three theft charges and a perjury charge in Putnam County courts.

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  • Let's See.. "Alexander still faces three theft charges and a perjury charge in Putnam County courts. " I know we as the public may be under-educated but wouldnt that be a double jeopardy situation..

    -- Posted by danielalangross on Thu, Nov 29, 2007, at 6:20 AM
  • As if it weren't bad enough to have to read the regular stupidity of the Banner when it comes to this case, they now have to drag my sister into it. I now know when I need one sided news where to go.

    -- Posted by jamo7983 on Thu, Nov 29, 2007, at 3:48 PM
  • Regular stupidity of the Banner? This is a story about an employee that STOLE MONEY! How is that stupid? How is that one sided? I think its a good thing the Banner covered this story instead of covering it up. We need to know what our officials,and trusted members of the community are up to. Because of this mans actions, it will be harder for any agency in Putnam County to get federal grants now....I hope it was worth it. I hope the salon and trip to FL were worth time in Federal Prison! I also think it's a little fishy that our Sheriff didn't seem to notice any of this going on?

    -- Posted by QueenBee on Fri, Nov 30, 2007, at 6:38 PM
  • Maybe you are being so harsh, because you only know the one side, correct? Maybe the point I was trying to prove was exactly what you wrote at the bottom of your paragraph! All they did was look at what he did around that time, not knowing exactly what the money was spent on, to me that is one sided, they don't know that he used that for his trip, or that he gave it to my sisters salon. Before you try to argue with me, I find it best to know more facts, not just what the Banner says.

    -- Posted by jamo7983 on Sun, Dec 2, 2007, at 9:38 AM
  • jamo7983. I dont think that the Banner prints any information that they are not given. They were given the facts of the case and they printed them. The citizens of Putnam County have the right to know how much money was stolen from them. They have the right to know that YOUR FATHER acted with or without assistance. Not only that, we are going to continue to pay for him to be housed in the federal facility. So the next time you get paid look at the federal income tax that is taken from your check. Part of that may be used to house convicted federal criminals.

    -- Posted by concerned3 on Sun, Dec 2, 2007, at 11:25 PM
  • I know the facts of this case. The fact is, it doesn't matter what or when the money was wasn't his money to spend in the first place! I feel the Banner did a good job of presenting all aspects of this case, as did channel 8,13,and 6. The facts were presented, and Mr. Alexander waived his right to a jury trial. Sounds like we did get the full story.

    -- Posted by QueenBee on Mon, Dec 3, 2007, at 5:16 AM
  • It is a tad fishy that higher-ups didn't seem to know this was going on. With this haven't got the full story...yet.

    -- Posted by serenity726 on Mon, Dec 3, 2007, at 1:33 PM
  • "They have the right to know that YOUR FATHER acted with or without assistance."

    Exactly, but this is being left out.

    What was the need to capitalize those words, do you think I am embarrased, because I'm not, I actually wrote a letter to the editor when this all happened, but do you think they wanted to post it, no, so that tells me they only want to print one side.

    "The fact is, it doesn't matter what or when the money was wasn't his money to spend in the first place!" You're right, I never said he didn't take it, did I, but involving my sister into this is not right, you have no idea what this family has went through, and then for the Banner to add that kind of information is wrong. It was not information that was needed by anyone.

    Until the whole truth comes out, you do not know all the facts of the case, it's so easy to judge when you aren't in the middle of all of it.

    -- Posted by jamo7983 on Mon, Dec 3, 2007, at 4:36 PM
  • I think that it is good that the public knows all of the facts that were presented in the case. I personally don't think that all of the facts are in yet. I am still hearing stories that lead me to believe that the ties of corruption run pretty deep and not just within the sheriff's department.

    If George did give his daughter stolen money for her business and the money is returned I have no issues with the daughter or her business nor should anyone else so long as she had no knowledge of where the money came from.

    -- Posted by CdaleResident on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 12:04 AM
  • Can anyone actually report why Mr. Alexander was added on to all of these accounts? Whose signature is on the cards? Just Mr. Alexander? Why are there no checks and balances at the courthouse to prevent these measures from happening? No one knew that there were discrepancies? Where were the individuals who were responsible for monitoring these accounts even on a quarterly basis? Dig deep Banner and you just might find yourself winning some sort of award!!!!

    -- Posted by cty-govt-a-muck on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 8:02 AM
  • very bad bad boy george, very very bad. you need a spanking.

    -- Posted by billy b on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 3:50 PM
  • this thing isn't working

    -- Posted by fed_up83 on Fri, Dec 7, 2007, at 7:00 AM
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