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Federal Indictment Outlines How Former Mitchell Woman Allegedly Stole Cash Bond Payments
Updated October 26, 2015 7:44 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(BLOOMINGTON) - The federal indictment of a former Monroe County Jail administrator alleges she stole envelopes containing cash bond payments from a safe that only she could access, then created fake invoices for inmate medical care to get refund checks for overpayments.

Investigators say 45-year-old Karen S. Bridges, of Mitchell, faces one charge of embezzlement, three charges of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud in connection with $263,932.71 taken from the Monroe County Jail's cash bond fund.

Indiana State Board of Accounts officials are requesting that Bridges pay Monroe County that amount in full, plus an additional $53,207.48 for special investigation costs.

The fund's deposits were actually $272,932.71, according to the State Board of Accounts' special investigation report released Thursday.

In February 2008, a $9,000 cashier's check made out to "Karen S. Bridges" was deposited into the jail's cash bond account with no record of the financial transaction. "Therefore, this will be handled as a repayment of cash funds taken," the report states.

Investigators say Bridges began stealing money in 2007 and continued until about June 1 of this year.

The federal indictment against Bridges outlines the apparent embezzlement scheme as follows:

  • On July 18, 2011, Bridges created two fake invoices from Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc. in the amounts of $42,680.35 and $5,705.39. These fraudulent invoices were submitted to the Monroe County Auditor's Office.
  • The health care company identified an overpayment and sent a refund check of $48,385.74 by mail to Bridges at the correctional center. This check was deposited into the jail's cash bond account on August 18, 2011.
  • Again investigators say Bridges created a false invoice purporting to be from Advanced Correctional Healthcare to the auditor's office on February 13, 2012. The company mailed Bridges a reimbursement check in the amount of $42,887.36, and it was deposited into the cash bond fund account on April 27, 2012.
  • A third fake invoice for health care services was submitted on Oct. 20, 2014, this time in the amount of $35,136.08. An overpayment refund check was again mailed to the jail and deposited on Nov. 26, 2014, and appeared on the jail's bank statement on December 3, 2014.

Police say fund funds for inmate health care are allocated from the jail budget in the county's general fund. The State Board of Accounts say the refunds of overpayments should have been deposited into the county bank account and receipted to the general fund, not the cash bond bank account.

Officials detailed the other methods they say Bridges used to try to cover her tracks.

"Checks were substituted for bond payments that were made in cash. Many checks that should have been deposited into a different Correctional Center bank account or County bank account were deposited into the Cash Bond bank account to cover the cash that was taken," the State Board of Accounts report states.

Federal investigators allege Bridges diverted $84,322.42 from various county accounts into the cash bond account.
She also reportedly moved $50,626 in checks from the Inmate Trust Fund into the cash bond account. The bulk of those funds were intended for the jail's commissary account.

The indictment states Bridges used the more than $260,000 in funds they say she took for personal purposes. Officials from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Attorney's Office said this week they do not know, specifically, what Bridges did with the money or how she spent it.

Police say Bridges used it as "a means to maintain a lifestyle beyond her means".

Bridges oversaw the cash bond account as the administrative coordinator at the jail since her hire in November 1996. She was fired on June 1 of this year after a 2013 State Board of Accounts audit of the jail sparked the investigation.

She was arrested without incident October 16 Bedford and appeared in an Indianapolis federal court that afternoon. She was released on her own recognizance on the condition that she not use illegal drugs or controlled substances without a prescription, not use alcohol to excess, surrender her passport and not obtain documents for international travel. An evidentiary and counsel hearing is scheduled for October 30.

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