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Former auditor to plead guilty Feb. 14

By John Estridge, Editor

Former Franklin County Auditor Steve Brack is slated to plead guilty in Fayette Superior Court at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day.

He will plead guilty to Fayette Superior Court Judge Paul Freed.

Freed is a special judge in the case. Special Prosecutor A.J. Bryson of Union County is representing the state. Brookville and Liberty attorney Jud McMillin, a former state representative, is Brack’s attorney.

Brack is charged with four felony Theft charges relating to his time as trustee treasurer of the Whitcomb Methodist Church. Brack, his wife and children attended Whitcomb Methodist Church for many years.

He and his family ran the cash register for decades at the Whitcomb Tent during the annual Franklin County 4-H Fair.

The investigating officer believes the Whitcomb Church thefts go back many years, but the statute of limitations bars him from filing more Theft charges against Brack.

Brack pleaded guilty to two felony Theft charges on Nov. 13, 2017 for his time as treasurer of the Brookville Kiwanis. Brack stole $1,488 from the charitable organization, which helps children.

It is believed Brack is the first elected county official to be charged with felonies and who pleaded guilty to felonies he was charged with while holding office.

He was sentenced to one year in the Franklin County Security Center on each of the two felonies he pleaded guilty to. He was to serve the sentences consecutively, but all time was suspended to probation.

He did not receive any jail time on his first two Theft felony charges he pleaded guilty to.

Brack was not fined. He had to pay about $340 in probation fees. He was ordered to pay the Kiwanis $888.

Indiana State Police Detective Vance Patton discovered the Whitcomb Church crimes while he was investigating the Kiwanis crimes.

Patton found a check in the Kiwanis files that was dated Feb. 13, 2015 from the Whitcomb Methodist Church. It was written to the Kiwanis for $1,500. It carried Brack’s signature.

When Patton found the Kiwanis check, he contacted Whitcomb Methodist Church minister Curtis Bond. Patton then met with Bond and his wife.

At that meeting, Bond produced several checks Brack allegedly wrote to himself from the

trustee account.

At that meeting, Bond produced several checks Brack allegedly wrote to himself from the trustee account.

“It appears they were issued without going toward Whitcomb Trustee related matters, issued for no reason stated on the check, issued for something that should have been covered by the General Fund account or appeared to have already been paid for by another account – a 'double dipping' so to speak,” Patton wrote in the affidavit.

Edwin Roberts, a former FCN Bank president and another treasurer at the Whit-comb Methodist Church explained to Patton how the trustee treasurer worked and how the Trustees Fund Account pays for the physical maintenance of the church and surrounding property such as mowing, ensuring the HVAC is operable, roof repair and new construction. New construction items include a wheelchair ramp and a picnic shelter. Also paid from this account are the expenses for the annual Whitcomb Church food tent at the Franklin County 4-H Fair.

Brack has been treasurer of the Trustees Fund Account at least since the late 1990s, and again Brack and his family members operated the cash register at the Whitcomb Tent at the Franklin County 4-H Fair for decades. It is one of the main eating establishments at the fair.

At that meeting and several others with Roberts, Patton gave Roberts several suspicious checks paid by Brack to himself or one of his family members from the Trustees Account going back five years, as that is just how long the investigation could go due to the statute of limitations.

Roberts said Brack could issue checks to himself because Brack was the authorized account representative. The fund's account was held at MainSource Bank in Brook-ville. Brack worked there for a time when it was the People’s Trust Bank.

However, according to Roberts, he did “not know whether Brack would issue himself a check for lawful reimbursement or otherwise, as Brack was the only Trustee Account representative and did not submit receipts or notifications of any kind when these checks had been issued.”

Roberts submitted judgments on all the checks Patton presented to him beginning with one from 2011. The checks went through 2015.

Brack was elected by Republican precinct committee people on Dec. 22, 2012. He received 14 of the 21 votes.

He was named auditor after then-auditor Erica Hudson resigned. She had been absent from her office for some time before she resigned. She also hired a male friend as a deputy auditor who was wanted on felony warrants from another county. He was soon arrested on those warrants.

Brack served out Hudson’s term and then was elected to the auditor’s office in the 2014 general election. He resigned without comment on Dec. 31, 2016. This was after he was charged with the first two counts of felony Theft but before he was charged with the last four counts of felony Theft.

No formal plea agreement has been filed by any of the attorneys in the case.

If convicted of a class D felony, Brack could receive a sentence of six months to three years in prison. A conviction of a Level 6 Felony brings with it a sentence of six months to two-and-a-half years in the Franklin County Security Center.