Editor’s note: The headline on an earlier version of this story incorrectly said the ex-Center Township trustee, not a township trustee official, was charged with theft.
A former official of the Center Township Trustee’s Office has been arrested in connection with the theft of more than $340,000 from the agency, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett announced Tuesday afternoon.
Federal prosecutors charged former chief financial officer Alan S. Mizen, 59, of Zionsville with theft and embezzlement of federal program funds. If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to three years of supervision, in addition to fines.
Mizen was arrested at his home in Zionsville and made an initial court appearance Tuesday morning before being released.
“My sadness comes from what the money could have been used for,” said Hogsett when announcing the charges.
The Center Township office’s main duty is to provide poor relief. Mizen served as its CFO from November 2001 through January 2011.
The complaint alleges that Mizen set up an account with PNC Bank and deposited a check in the amount of $343,541.08 drawn from public funds. He then used the computerized accounting system at the Center Township office to create a false invoice indicating that he had written the check to the “Treasurer of State,” the complaint said.
Mizen proceeded to transfer the funds he deposited into personal accounts, using $200,000 to help purchase a $500,000 home in Zionsville, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He also purchased a 2009 Toyota Tacoma pickup, spent $14,274.89 to help fund his child’s college education and bought a diamond necklace and diamond ring totaling $8,900 during a trip to the Cayman Islands, the complaint said.
The pickup and jewelry has been seized, and a notice filed with Boone County officials prohibiting him from transferring his interest in the home until the criminal case is resolved.
More than $385,000 has been recovered from an investment account to repay the trustee’s office, said Brad Blackington, a senior lawyer at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, who is prosecuting the case.
Blackington said the office doubts that anyone else at the trustee’s office is involved in the theft.
But the trustee’s office has been under scrutiny in recent years over its financial management practices. Critics have long complained the office spends too much money on overhead and personnel while providing few services.
A state audit covering 2009 and 2010 found a number of Center Township employees, including Mizen, were heavily compensated from the township assistance fund but didn’t do any assistance-related work.
The auditors produced a supplemental report on Mizen’s pay, which totaled $173,236 in 2010, though his stated salary was $92,295. Mizen collected overtime, though he was in a salaried position, the report said. He also cashed out comp time and paid time off, against township rules, according to the report.
Mizen reported working more than 12 hours a day on 107 days in 2010.