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More Information Released In Arrest of Former ISP Evidence Clerk
Updated September 13, 2018 12:51 PM | Filed under: Crime
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(BLOOMINGTON) - More information has been released on the former Indiana State Police clerk that is accused of stealing more than $50,000 cash from the evidence room.

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Indiana State Police arrested 55-year-old Vera Gardner at her West Grand Avenue home on Tuesday.

Indiana State Police and Indiana State Board of Accounts officials started their investigation after a September 2017 routine audit determined $37,087.77 from a 2016 case had gone missing.

In May, four investigators completed an audit of the more than 10,000 items booked into evidence at the ISP post in Bloomington. The investigation took three days.

Investigators found money missing from sealed bags and envelopes:

  • $10,380.00 from evidence seized from a suspect in December 2015. ISP realized this money was missing when defense attorney Joe Lozano tried to retrieve the money for his client this May after the prosecutor's office signed a release form for the seized cash. One bag of evidence was missing $1,580.00 and another bag had been completely emptied of $8,800.00.
  • $680.00 taken during a search of a house in May 2016. All of the large bills had been taken from the package of evidence. The small bills - tens, fives and ones - remained.
  • $2,600.00 from a 1991 conspiracy to commit murder case.

Investigators found no fingerprints or DNA on the packages or envelopes but they did find they had been tampered with. Many of the original factory seals appeared to be altered.

Officials say the evidence storage room at the post is secured with a locked door and alarmed. Armed troopers are assigned to keep watch of the space 24 hours a day. Money seized during investigations and booked into evidence is kept locked in a metal storage cabinet inside that room. Access to the cabinet requires a key that is kept in a separate room, also manned 24 hours a day by a trooper. A signature is required to get the key.

Only four people had access to the secure evidence room - three are state police sergeants and the other was Gardner.

Gardner, who worked at Indiana State Police for 23 years, spent the past 13 years of her career as an evidence clerk. Her last day of work was July 18, 2017. She went on medical disability for colon cancer and other health issues.

Gardner and her attorney Mary Higdon met with investigators in October 2017. During that interview, she denied taking the money and agreed to provide bank, mortgage, credit card, and financial statements.

Police learned Gardner was in financial trouble - more than $203,000 in credit care, medical and mortgage debt. She had excessive credit card debt, she had stolen cash from her husband's personal safe to make the payments and asked to borrow money from family members.

Police also learned Gardner had made more than $18,000 in deposits labeled as cash within in one year she could not account for.

After learning these facts, Gardner refused to participate in any further interviews.

A judge on Tuesday issued a warrant for Gardner's arrest on the felony theft charge. She was released from jail after posting a $500 bond.



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