(CINCINNATI) – The former Center Township Trustee Stephen C. Durham is accused of using township funds on race car driving and personal use according to a probable cause affidavit from the Greene County Prosecutor’s office.
According to investigators, Durham allegedly falsified documents to use Center Township funds for unauthorized use.
Durham was elected township trustee and served as township trustee from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2018.
An audit began in August 2018 by Lynne Spencer, a Special Investigator with the Indiana State Board of Accounts. She met with Indiana State Police Detective Tony C. Guinn to start an investigation into improper disbursements and purchases of Center Township funds that were criminal in nature.
On November 2, 2018, investigators met with Center Township Fire Department Chief Jeremy Inman at the Indiana State Police Post after Spencer had identified suspicious purchases and disbursements and there was no supporting documentation.
Inman identified some as legitimate purchases and disbursements related to the fire department. Inman could not identify many of the purchases for the Greene County, Center Township Fire Department.
Those purchases that were not legitimate included items purchased by Mr. Durham that were related to racing.
Multiple purchases and payments were made to businesses and individuals that either had no supporting documentation or were for items and services that are not normally made by a township trustee. All of these purchases were paid for by checks signed by Stephen C. Durham.
Inman told investigators he could not think of any legitimate reason why the township would need the items purchased by Durham, especially items related to racing.
During the investigation, it was discovered Durham has his own racing team and racing a car. According to investigators, Durham has multiple pictures that have racing cars and racing facilities in them.
Some of the items and businesses where items were purchase using township funds include:
- Cincinnati Industrial Auctions, Cincinnati, OH, was paid over $9,965 for items used for manufacturing or maintaining a race car or items used for general contractors.
- Greg Smith Equipment was paid $1,808.30 for the purchase of a tire changing machine and 20-ton hydraulic press.
- Truck Equipment and Body Inc., Indianapolis, was paid $5,675 to attach a snowplow to a vehicle titled and registered to 3D General Contracting LLC. which is owned by Durham
- Custom Metal Roofing was paid $2,045.99 in a purchase made in the name of “Indy Speedrome” with Center Township check 6134. The phone number listed on the check was called and was the phone number of 3-D Contracting. Stephen Durham answered the phone.
- 3rd Turn Racing received multiple payments from Center Township Trustee. The purchases totaled $4,473. Durham told investigators Center Township was sponsoring his racing team. Red and White sheet metal was used on a project for 3D Racing, who hired Durham to do some construction work.
- Stephen C. Durham used the Sales Tax Identification Number of Center Township to avoid paying sales tax on many of the purchases and which appeared to be for personal use for himself and the racing team.
Donnie Murphy is a known associate of Durham. Murphy is involved in the racing industry. During the execution of a search warrant at Murphy’s home, investigators found snowplow mounting brackets and wiring used to attach and operate the snowplow attached to a 2005 Chevrolet 2500 HD truck located on his property.
Murphy was provided information to contact Indiana State Police and Murphy informed the investigators that he was in contact with his attorney and that his attorney would be contacting them. Murphy’s attorney has yet to contact investigators.
Durham has not met with investigators since the execution of a search warrant on August 13, 2020.
Investigators also determined that Center Township Funds in the amount of $850 were used to purchase items that did not come to or have any benefit to Greene County Center Township.
According to investigators, Durham used Greene County Center Township funds in 2017 to make a total of $28,194.85 in purchases of racing equipment and other items that did not have any benefit to the township.
In 2018, Durham used a total of $29,512.17 in purchases of racing equipment that did not have any benefit to Center Township.
An audit conducted by the Indiana State Board of Accounts dated November 6, 2020 identified that some financial statements contain funds with deficits in cash. This was the result of expenditures being more than revenues received and cash balances available.
Cash Balances Overdrawn:
- Fire Building Fund – $32 as of December 2016, 2017 and 2018
- Firefighting Fund – $14,760 as of December 2018 and 2019
- Special Fire Protection Fund – As of December 31, 2018, and 2019
Other Issues by the township identified:
- Each officer did not certify in writing by December 2017 and 2018 that they did not violate Indiana Code 36-1-20-2 in regards to Nepotism.
- Each officer did not certify in writing by December 2017 and 2018 that they contracted with a unit of government for services.
Records indicate the following expenditures in excess of budget appropriations:
- 2016 Fire Debt – $149,143
- 2017 Township – $23,923
- 2017 Firefighting – $160
- 2017 Fire Debt – $15,176
- 2018 Township – $106,275
- 2018 Special Fire Protection Territory General – $17,860
- 2019 Fire Debt – $15,956
- 2019 Special Fire Protection Territory – General – $79,197
- 2019 Special Fire Protection Territory – Equipment – $50,316
According to Indiana Code officers of the township shall appropriate funds in such a manner that the expenditures for a year due not exceed in budget for that year.
The township trustee did not record an individual surety bond in the Greene County Recorders Office for 2016 and 2018. Under Indiana Code, every elected or appointed officer, official, deputy, employee, or contractor shall file a bond with the fiscal officer in the political subdivision.
Did Not Provide Training:
The township board did not provide training on required internal control standards to personnel during the audit period.
1340 AM WBIW reached out to current Center Township Trustee Gary Jackson but he was not able to make any comments at this time due to the ongoing investigation.