Former Guthrie Township Trustee Arrested on Official Misconduct, Theft Charges

(BEDFORD) – Former Guthrie Township Trustee Robert Awbrey was arrested Tuesday morning on charges of official misconduct and theft.

According to a Lawrence County Superior Court I probable cause affidavit, Awbrey, who will be 56 tomorrow, was appointed as Guthrie Township Trustee on May 1, 2016. He named his wife, 54-year-old Teri Awbrey, to serve as the Guthrie Township Clerk.

He resigned from the position on December 23, 2018.

According to Gina Gambaiani of the State Board of Accounts, Robert Awbrey was to receive a yearly salary of $4,200 for being the trustee. Teri Awbrey was entitled to an annual salary of $2,200 to be the clerk.

Officially, the trustee has the authority to spend $1,800 a year for rent of office space. The trustee can own the office space and claim their residence as the office space. According to Gambaiani, Robert only made six entries into the trustee ledger during his tenure as the Guthrie township trustee.

According to records obtained by the Indiana State Board of Accounts, Robert Awbrey paid himself the following amounts for his salary:

  • 2016 – $5,625.33
  • 2017 – $8,715.02
  • 2018 – $11,469.73
  • Total – $25,810.08

According to records obtained, Robert Awbrey also wrote checks to reimburse himself and did not provide documentation for what the checks were written for.

The following are the amounts the checks totaled:

  • 2016 – $780.00
  • 2017 – $6,743.98
  • 2018 – $2,709.90
  • Total – $10,233.88

On March 1, 2019, at approximately 12:55 p.m., Gina Gambaiani and Indiana State Detective Craig Starr went to the Awbrey’s residence, located at 1538 Leesville Road, to meet with Robert.

Robert told them he was not having any financial problems and that he made good money where he worked at Turner Contracting (TCI). Awbrey said the township trustee position he held had a yearly salary of $6,000. He stated he believed his monthly salary checks were for $571 or $572. He then said he learned what his salary should be from Nickie Hubbard, who was the former trustee.

Robert told officials that he thought it would look weird for him to pay the rent to himself, so he paid the money allocated for rent to his wife. He then told officials that he resigned from his position because being trustee ‘was not his thing.’

When Awbrey was informed of the overpayments he said that he made a bad mistake and that he ‘sucked at being the trustee.’ Awbrey denied knowing that he was overpaying himself and stated that he messed up when he paid himself too much money and that he would pay the money back.

Gambaiani asked him if he could explain check #2108 that he wrote to himself on September 27, 2017. Robert said that he had reimbursed himself for cash donations to the Leesville Community Center. Robert advised that he had given cash to Glenda Sowders. Robert told officials that he gave Sowders different amounts of money in cash on different dates, but $3,250 was the total amount he gave.

On March 1, 2019, at approximately 1:35 p.m., Gina Gambaiani and Detective Starr went to Nick Hubbard’s residence located at 1064 Grindstone Hollow Road. Hubbard said that he resigned as township trustee because he was not getting along with Phil Johnson over fire department issues. Hubbard advised that the trustee’s yearly salary was around $4,000 a year and that the clerk’s salary was about $2,000 a year.

Hubbard told officials that he paid the salary checks once a quarter and that rent was approximately $125 a month. Hubbard said that he had shared that information with Awbrey. He also gave Awbrey two or three filing cabinets with records when he took over as trustee. Hubbard told officials that the paperwork and accounts were in good standing upon his resignation.

Gina Gambaiani said the State Board of Accounts found no problems while Hubbard served as the trustee.

Gambaiani advised that she had received the township W-2s for 2016 and 2017. Greg Stokes is the CPA that prepared the tax trustee documents for Robert Awbrey and Teri Awbrey. On March 1, 2019, at approximately 3:15 p.m., Gambaiani and Detective Starr went to Stokes & Housel located at 1227 15th St. in Bedford and spoke to Stokes. Stokes provided officials with W-2s for 2018 along with documents that Robert and Teri Awbrey submitted to him to prepare their taxes. The W-2s and rent receipts show Robert Aubrey received an overpayment of $2,256.67 for 2016, an overpayment of $5,358.50 in 2017 and an overpayment of $8,263.29 in 2018.

On March 20, 2019, at approximately 11:30 a.m., Detective Starr spoke with Glenda Sowders by phone. She told the detective that Robert Awbrey gave around $3,000 in donations to the Leesville Community Center, but not all at once. She says Awbrey gave her different amounts of money in cash on multiple occasions.

Sowders said that she assumed these were personal donations because Robert Awbrey had said, ‘this is from me and Teri’ when Robert handed her the money. Sowders offered Robert Awbrey a receipt, but he said he didn’t need one. Sowders told the detective she did not believe the money came from the trustee funds, because when the community center fund comes from the trustee, it comes in the form of a check.

On April 2, 2019, at approximately 12:15 p.m., Gina Gambaiani and Detective Starr interviewed Brooke Horner-Hayes and Stacie Dawn Ratliff at the Shawswick Township Trustee’s Office in Bedford. Horner-Hayes is the Guthrie Township Board President. Ratliff is the current Guthrie Township Trustee and former Guthrie Township Board member.

Ratliff and Horner-Hayes said that they were appointed to the township board when Robert Awbrey became the trustee. Ratliff and Horner-Hayes also noted that they didn’t know the amount of money Robert Awbrey got paid and that they did not know how much money they were supposed to make. Robert Awbrey also told them that the trustee did not get paid much.

Horner-Hayes said they did not authorize any additional salary payments or other payments to Robert Awbrey. Ratliff and Horner-Hayes also noted that they did not approve any extra money for the Leesville Community Center.

Ratliff and Horner-Hayes did authorize funds for the Leesville Fire Department, such as funds for the fire contract and some funds to pay for construction work to remodel the building.

Ratliff advised that Robert Awbrey gave her the following when she took over being the trustee:

  • 2-Printers
  • 1-Laptop computer
  • 1-Desktop computer
  • 1-Filing cabinet
  • 1-Camera
  • Security cameras

Ratliff stated that Robert Awbrey had also offered her a desk. Ratliff said she picked these items up from Awbrey on March 19, 2019.

Ratliff said she also needed to pick up several boxes of old records from Awbrey. Ratliff said that she also received a bag of invoices from Awbrey that had not been paid at that time.