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Former Owen Co. Auditor Facing $1.18 Million Lawsuit
Updated January 26, 2015 9:54 AM
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(SPENCER) - A former county auditor who's the subject of an ongoing investigation into missing public funds now faces a lawsuit seeking nearly $1.2 million from her for alleged "acts of malfeasance."

Owen County attorney Richard Lorenz recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the county's commissioners that names former county auditor Angie Lawson and her husband, Larry Lawson.

The suit seeks the recovery of $1.18 million in public funds, or three times the roughly $400,000 found missing so far from Owen County's coffers. The money was found missing by an ongoing State Board of Accounts audit.

Indiana law allows for triple damages in civil cases involving misuse of public funds.

The Lawsons have not been charged, but Indianapolis attorney Andrew Maternowski, who's representing the couple, says his clients are awaiting word on how the FBI will proceed with charges that likely would be filed in federal court.

Court documents show that during a Jan. 13 hearing before Monroe County Judge Francie Hill, the Lawsons agreed to comply with the terms of a temporary injunction and promised not to sell any of the assets listed in the county's suit and to the hold on any disbursement of their pensions.

The suit states that Angie Lawson used county-issued credit cards to purchase liquor, lingerie, toys, diamond jewelry, televisions and numerous other items at a local Wal-Mart store. Lawson often spent more than $2,000 in a single shopping spree, sometimes accompanied by her husband, according to the suit.

Indiana State Police officers spent several hours in November 2014 searching Angie Lawson's home near Gosport to locate hundreds of items -- from diamond rings to a Shiatsu foot massager -- she is suspected of buying with the county's Walmart credit cards.

IProsecutors have not yet charged Lawson with a crime, but the case is an active investigation.

Owen County Auditor Mike Wood told investigators he became suspicious when he received an invoice from Wal-Mart with a P.O. Box listed as an address.

According to court records, during the execution of a search warrant, investigators discovered that Angie Lawson had logged into her web-based software program and deleted her account and all work-related files.

"The deleting of the files by Angie Lawson was not work related, was against policy and was detrimental to the daily functions of the Auditor's office, per Auditor Mike Wood," read court records.

Preliminary Indiana State Police reports indicate 56-year-old Lawson went on shopping sprees often, sometimes spending more than $2,000 in one transaction.

In court documents unsealed by Monroe Circuit Judge Marc Kellams, an ISP detective alleges Lawson diverted the Walmart bills to a post office box she shared with her husband and daughter, then issued online check payments using electronic signatures without sending the bills through her office and on to the county commissioners for review.
When the payments appeared in county bank statements, there would be check numbers correlating with dollar amounts, but the check recipients are not listed.

Court documents in the case state that there might be as many as 75 county-issued Walmart cards circulating and that Lawson may have given some to family members and friends.

She is also suspected of spending more than $18,000 in county funds for mail-order novelty items purchased from the Oriental Trading Co. and paying with a county check; not paying almost $50,000 in county health insurance premiums; and siphoning thousands from a county account that pays lawyers to represent indigent clients.

Lawson has not been charged with any crimes. Morgan County Deputy Prosecutor Bob Cline, who is overseeing the investigation, has yet to file any criminal charges and would not say when charges might come.

Angie Lawson was the elected county auditor from January 2005 through December 2012. She then served as chief deputy auditor from January 2013 until she was fired last August.

She was the Republican precinct committee woman in Wayne Township 2, where her husband, Larry, was the vice precinct committeeman, but they have resigned in light of the suspicions of financial malfeasance. Lawson also has resigned as treasurer of the Owen County Republican Party.

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