Ex-Putnamville trooper Kerns facing charges in bogus-ticket incident

Saturday, May 19, 2012

PUTNAMVILLE -- A former Putnamville trooper has been accused of forging traffic tickets, ostensibly to boost his Indiana State Police performance numbers, authorities say.

However, unintended consequences of the reported actions of Heath M. Kerns, 34, of Roachdale, ultimately led to the wrongful suspension of dozens of drivers' licenses, an investigation claims.

Kerns, who is also a former one-time Roachdale town marshal, is facing charges of official misconduct, forgery and perjury in the case.

After ISP supervisors confronted him over the allegations of falsifying tickets in 2010, Kerns resigned from the department on Aug. 23 of that year after less than four years as a trooper.

"Upon his resignation, the process that had been started to conduct an internal investigation ended," Capt. Dave Bursten, commander of the ISP Public Information Office, explained Friday to the Banner Graphic.

The Indiana Office of Inspector General subsequently initiated an investigation, Bursten said, that has now resulted in criminal charges "related to the allegation that Mr. Kerns falsified traffic tickets."

According to a probable cause affidavit, Kerns allegedly wrote more than 40 bogus traffic citations and warnings while working out of the Indiana State Police Post at Putnamville between March and July 2010.

His apparent intent was "to increase his traffic enforcement activity statistics to the Indiana State Police, which he consistently had trouble maintaining as reflected in his performance appraisals," the probable cause affidavit states.

Investigators say while Kerns never filed the tickets with the court, they nonetheless made it into the system because the Brownsburg Town Court automatically downloads traffic citations assigned to its jurisdiction.

The phony tickets erroneously resulted in the suspension of 43 drivers' licenses for what was a perceived failure to appear in court.

Investigators said that in one case, a truck driver nearly lost his job because his employer believed his license had been suspended. That came about after Kerns had issued a citation for a moving violation to a motorist he allegedly never stopped.

"While Kerns' actions did not result in monetary loss for any motorist," the probable cause further stated, "it is important to note that his actions had potentially severe, unintended consequences that affected each motorist."

All driving records have been corrected, Indiana State Police officials assured Friday.

The Roachdale man has denied the allegations to his superiors, maintaining instead that the erroneous tickets were a computer mistake, statements in the probable cause affidavit indicate.

Currently Kerns is employed by the Airport Police Department at Indianapolis International. He has been placed on leave, pending the results of the investigation, an airport spokesman said.

Kerns did not have a disciplinary record with the State Police prior to the allegation that resulted in his voluntary resignation, Capt. Bursten said.

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  • This was a computer error, there is no such thing as crooked cops!

    -- Posted by 1stamendrights. on Sat, May 19, 2012, at 1:21 PM
  • no monetary loss,what about the insurance rates going up,the time spent trying to clear this up with the dmv,attorney expence,i see a great deal of monetary loss,and a class action suite against the state very soon.

    -- Posted by jcromwell1 on Sat, May 19, 2012, at 5:40 PM
  • I think anyone that knows or has worked with Heath, knows there has to be more to this story. I'm sure it WAS a computer mistake, because Heath wouldn't jeopardize other people's lives for something so minimal. He has always been a great police officer and I will continue to support him. Keep your head up, Heath!

    -- Posted by greenbanana on Sun, May 20, 2012, at 11:31 PM
  • Computer mistake? A computer will only do what you tell it to do. It doesn't have a mind of its own.

    -- Posted by KeyboardWarrior on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 2:41 PM
  • I believe my computer at work DOES have a mind of it's own........lol

    -- Posted by kubotafan on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 5:03 PM
  • I have known Heath and the entire Kerns family for a long time and have nothing but admiration and respect for them. Heath is a wonderful, upstanding person and if he says there was a computer error then I believe him. He was raised to have morals and take responsibility for his actions, regardless of what you believe, Hoosier67. When he was a town cop in Roachdale he was always available to help me, or my family when we needed, even going out of his way to be of assistance. All of you who are so quick to judge should be ashamed of yourselves. For your sake, if you ever find yourself in a similar position I hope that the general public isn't as harsh to you as you all are to Heath, as I doubt you could handle it with as much dignity as he is able to.

    -- Posted by Purdue2009 on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 6:25 PM
  • I've known heath for many years and he is a great officer and good person! Purdue2009 you said it perfectly! We will continue to support you heath! Hang in there!

    -- Posted by kmcgowan2 on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 7:16 PM
  • Hoosier67,

    You must have gotten picked last in dodgeball a lot huh?



    -- Posted by Hoosier68 on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 9:43 PM
  • Bully^

    -- Posted by 1stamendrights. on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 12:42 AM
  • Why did he resign the same year he was questioned of the allegations? Just saying.....

    -- Posted by pmoore9630 on Fri, May 25, 2012, at 9:39 PM
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