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Last updated on Wednesday, February 1, 2012
(SCALES LAKE) (WFIE) - A lawsuit has been filed against a former Scales Lake bookkeeper, accused of embezzling public money.
Indiana's Attorney General says more than $34,000 should be returned to Warrick County.
The bookkeeper is not only accused of pocketing cash, but also using the park's credit card to go to Sam's Club at least 45 times.
Investigators say she bought groceries, gas, and other personal items all on the public's dime.
Kristi Gates worked at the gatehouse entrance to Scales Lake.
The state audit showed from December 2009 to January 2011 $18,000 disappeared from the park.
State officials say another $2,000 was transferred into Gates' bank accounts. The audit also showed another $1,700 was spent at Sam's Club.
Indiana's Attorney General Greg Zoeller, filed to freeze Gates' assets to recover the $34,000 she is accused of misspending.
"It makes me feel like we're all painted with a bad brush, and we need to show there's going to be no tolerance to this," he said.
Included in that total is $12,000 of taxpayer money spent on penalties, interest, and accounting fees for the state audit.
Zoeller says this case is one of 40 filed last year, and that this type of activity needs to stop.
"We've seen this over, over, and over again. It's too easy to write a check out to themselves."
The attorney general says he wants all towns to require double signatures on checks. He's also pushed for increased bond insurance for public employees.
Gates' security bond covers her for $10,000, but state officials say they hope to get the full amount back to Warrick County.
A court date hasn't been set yet for the civil lawsuit, but Gates is expected in court for her criminal trial on March 27th.
She has pleaded innocent to five accounts of theft and two counts of fraud.
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