Ex-BMV official reaches proposed ethics violation settlement

June 8, 2016

A former Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles official who took a job with a company he awarded a lucrative state contract has reached a proposed settlement of alleged ethics violations.

Indiana Inspector General Cynthia Carrasco confirmed Wednesday that her office had reached a settlement agreement with former BMV chief of staff Shawn Walters. She said its terms would be released after the State Ethics Commission considers it Thursday.

Walters awarded Express MVA a contract in 2010 providing it with BMV workstations and allowing it to charge a lucrative "convenience fee" that effectively doubled the cost of services typically available only at state license branches, The Indianapolis Star reported.

That fee generated about $6 million a year for Express MVA, which hired Walters in 2014 but fired him last year.

Walters doesn't have a published phone number and couldn't be reached for comment.

Walters left the BMV in 2013 after it was revealed that the agency had overcharged customers by tens of millions of dollars. He and other BMV executives knew for years about some of those fee problems but chose to ignore or cover up the overcharges rather than refund the money, the Star reported.

About $30 million in overcharges was later refunded, but only after a class action lawsuit. A second lawsuit involving additional fees is ongoing.

After leaving the BMV, Walters became an administrator for the state's Family and Social Services Administration. He joined Express MVA as its chief operating officer in June 2014 and didn't ask the State Ethics Commission whether the move would violate a law setting a one-year cooling-off period before employees can take jobs with state vendors.

Those restrictions are intended to prevent private companies from using lucrative jobs to entice or reward state officials who have the power to regulate or award them contracts.

Gov. Mike Pence canceled Indiana's contract with Express MVA last August following the revelations about Walters' relationship with the company. The governor also asked Carrasco, the state's top ethics watchdog, to conduct an investigation.

She filed a formal ethics complaint against Walters in April.


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