Monroe County Correctional Center Coordinator Indicted on Fraud and Embezzlement Charges
INDIANAPOLIS—United States Attorney Josh Minkler today announced fraud and embezzlement charges against a woman who served as the administrative coordinator for the Monroe County Correctional Center. Karen S. Bridges, 45, Mitchell, Indiana, was arrested this morning for her role in allegedly stealing cash from the Monroe County Cash Bond Fund.
“The citizens of Monroe County deserve much better from their public servants,” said Minkler. “Ms. Bridges used public funds as her personal checking account and now will be held accountable.”
From 1996 until June 2015, Bridges served as an administrative coordinator for the Monroe County Correctional Center and oversaw the cash bond account which is used for the receipt of jail bonds for Monroe County. The cash bond account is used as a pass through account for the receipt of inmate bond funds which are later disbursed to the Monroe County Clerk of the Courts.
When an individual appears at the Monroe County Jail to pay a bond for an inmate’s release, they pay with cash, a money order or a pre-established GPS account. Envelopes with the bond payments were placed in a locked safe, which Bridges had access to.
As part of the scheme to hide her embezzlement, Bridges allegedly submitted false invoices to the county purporting to be from Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH), including invoices for work which had not been completed. ACH provided health care to jail inmates. When ACH discovered the overpayments from Monroe County, it sent refunds to Bridges’ attention at the Monroe County Correctional Facility. The refunds from ACH were deposited into the Cash Fund Bond account to cover the shortages that resulted from her embezzlement.
On several occasions, Bridges reported falsely to the Indiana State Board of Accounts that shortages in the cash bond fund were “in transit” meaning, the checks for bond payments had not yet been processed by the account holder’s financial institution. The result of Bridges’ alleged embezzlement is approximately $264,000.
This case was jointly investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Indiana State Police Organized Crime and Corruption Unit and the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
According to Senior Litigation Counsel Steven D. DeBrota and Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan A. Bont who are prosecuting this case for the government, Bridges could face up to 20 years in prison, if convicted of the most serious offense.