In an effort to explain how the embezzlement of $7,140 could go undetected for almost a year, the Starke County Tourism Board issued a timeline and statement yesterday in the Jennie Carter case.
According to the timeline, Carter, Coordinator of the Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County organization, wrote a check for that amount of money on March 21st, 2011 to the Drug Free organization. She claimed it was for money owed to the Indiana Department of Revenue in taxes. Cosigning with Carter was the Tourism Board President, Rich Wieczorek, who is not suspected of wrongdoing. The check was cashed by Carter, who took possession of the money.
Throughout the next nine months, Carter evaded certain detection by a series of misinformation given when questioned about aspects of the fraudulent check.
It was not until Carter admitted the embezzlement on January 11th, 2012 that the mystery was completely solved. Although there was a certain amount of suspicion, the key piece of the puzzle fell into place when the State of Indiana Department of Revenue in December said their records indicated that the Starke County Tourism Commission was not registered to withhold state and county withholding taxes.
Carter has paid back much of the money embezzled and has promised full restitution, but that has not kept the Starke County Prosecutor’s Office from investigating the case. One tourism board member has labeled the episode as a sorry mess.
The tourism department’s release yesterday said that certain procedures have now been put in place that would thwart a similar situation in the future.