Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall heard the final arguments in the case against Jennie Carter this afternoon and rendered his verdict in the bench trial against the woman accused of taking $7,000 in Starke County Tourism Commission funds for her own use.
Carter faced a count of Theft as a Class D felony in the bench trial which began last Wednesday. Three witnesses testified throughout the course of the bench trial, including the lead investigator in the case with the Indiana State Police, Debbie Mix of the Starke County Tourism Commission and Chamber of Commerce, and the defendant.
Final arguments began Wednesday afternoon and continued today, when the elements of the theft charge were explained and other legal issues were discussed.
The verdict was left to Judge Hall to decide, who entered a verdict of guilty of Theft as a Class D felony. Carter will receive her sentence on March 25 at 10 a.m. in the Starke Circuit Court.
Final arguments will continue today in Starke Circuit Court in the case of Jennie Carter.
Carter is facing a count of Theft as a Class D Felony in a bench trial began last Wednesday. Three witnesses testified including the lead Indiana State Police investigator in the case, Debbie Mix of the Starke County Tourism Commission and Starke County Chamber of Commerce and Jennie Carter herself.
Three witnesses were called Thursday in the Starke Circuit Court bench trial in the case of Jennie Carter. Carter was charged with theft in an investigation with the Indiana State Police after she allegedly took $7,000 in Starke County Tourism Commission funds for her own use.
The prosecution called two witnesses, the lead detective in the investigation Chris Campione with the Indiana State Police and Debbie Mix with the Starke County Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Commission. They testified of their knowledge of the event surrounding the incident. Defendant Jennie Carter testified on her own behalf.
Testimony lasted throughout the day with Judge Kim Hall presiding. The prosecution and defense were able to deliver their final arguments, but those arguments have been continued until Monday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. The elements of the count of Theft, a Class D Felony, will be presented in this case. All evidence will then be in the hands of Judge Hall who will render a verdict.
A jury trial will commence today at 9 a.m. in the case of Jerome Uskert who is accused of Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated and Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated with a Prior Conviction within Five Years.
Jennie Carter will appear in Starke Circuit Court this morning at 9 a.m. for a bench trial. She had been slated for a jury trial but her attorney filed a waiver for a bench trial which was granted in a hearing yesterday afternoon. Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall will preside over the hearing and make a judgment after all evidence is heard. Fifteen witnesses are expected to testify in this case.
Jennie Carter appeared for her initial hearing in Starke Circuit Court this morning. Charged with a felony count of theft, Carter pleaded not guilty to Judge Kim Hall. She is currently out on $5,000 cash bond.
Carter requested a court appointed lawyer, but under questioning by the judge, she said that she was gainfully employed, and paid $2,600 a month. When asked if she had anything of value that could be sold to pay a lawyer, she said she had a four-year-old television and a 2007 Ford Taurus that she was making payments on. Her on-hand cash was listed as $200.00, and she said her $5,000 bond money was borrowed.
The woman who was at the center of a controversy that ultimately involved the Starke County Tourism Office and Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County was arrested yesterday on a State Police warrant and charged with Theft. Jennie Carter was booked into the Starke County Jail and eventually bonded out on a $5,000 cash bond.
Carter was accused of mishandling $7,140 in 2011. She eventually admitted to the misappropriation of the funds and agreed to pay it back by March 15th of this year.
The Indiana State Police have informed Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff that claims of impropriety have been brought against Sheriff Oscar Cowen by former deputy, Don Ferguson.
Because he works closely with the Starke County Police, Prosecutor Bourff petitioned for a special prosecutor to handle the claims. Also issuing an Order of Recusal and Assignment of Special Judge was Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall. The Special Judge assigned to the case is the Honorable Jeffrey Thode of Porter Superior Court #6 located in Portage, Indiana. This Judge will conduct all future proceedings including a ruling on the pending Petition for a Special Prosecutor.
The Board of Directors of Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County met in Executive Session this week. According to Board President Judy Jelinek, the board will be meeting in an open session Wednesday, February 22nd, and will discuss the appointment of a financial committee and a personnel matter.
The appointment of a financial committee will be new for the organization as financial matters were handled by the state in the past. Quarterly reports were sent to the state by the local organization.
The regular meeting of Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County was held Wednesday and produced no action on the status of Jennie Carter as Coalition Coordinator of Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County. The President of Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County, Judy Jelinek, said no action could have been taken as the lack of a quorum prohibited the Board to conduct business.
Another meeting has been scheduled for 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, February 15th at the Girl Scout Cabin in Knox. Carter is still the Coordinator, and Jelinek said that the executive session is scheduled to discuss personnel matters. A yet to be announced open meeting for the public and press will be held after the executive session. No time or location has been announced for that public meeting.
In an effort to explain how the embezzlement of $7,140 could go undetected for almost a year, the Starke County Tourism Board issued a timeline and statement yesterday in the Jennie Carter case.
According to the timeline, Carter, Coordinator of the Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County organization, wrote a check for that amount of money on March 21st, 2011 to the Drug Free organization. She claimed it was for money owed to the Indiana Department of Revenue in taxes. Cosigning with Carter was the Tourism Board President, Rich Wieczorek, who is not suspected of wrongdoing. The check was cashed by Carter, who took possession of the money.
The Starke County Commissioners emerged from an Executive Session yesterday to announce financial improprieties involving taxpayer money by Jennie Carter. Carter is the Coalition Coordinator for Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County.
According to County Attorney Martin Lucas, the commissioners came to the conclusion that Carter committed financial improprieties by transferring funds from the Convention and Visitors Board to the Tourism Board.
The Knox City Council approved the second reading of an ordinance to prohibit the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana in the city limits.
Knox Mayor, Rick Chambers, told the Council that he had some questions for City Attorney, David Matsey, about the enforceability of this ordinance. Matsey was not present at the meeting but Mayor Chambers voiced his concerns to the Council members. Mayor Chambers questioned whether specific tests are available to test the product to ensure it contains the ingredients that classify it as synthetic marijuana. If there is a test available, who is authorized to conduct the test? Do Indiana State Police labs have equipment available to test the product? Jennie Carter from Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County informed the City Council that she will get answers for those questions and have them available by the next City Council meeting. The third and final reading of this ordinance is expected to be made at the Council’s December 14th meeting.