Formal charges have been filed against a former Pulaski County official who is accused of stealing items from a dead man. Prosecuting attorney Daniel Murphy tells WKVI News he’s charged 41-year-old Tracy Rossman of Winamac with official misconduct as a level 6 felony and theft as a class A misdemeanor since the items she is accused of taking are valued at less than $750.
She was still working as chief deputy coroner last Friday when she responded to David Penicaro’s rural Winamac home along with officials from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department. Court documents indicate Rossman took several items of personal property as part of her investigation, including Penicaro’s wallet and its contents, four uncashed checks and his vehicle keys. She did not provide family members a receipt for the seized items, according to the documents.
Penicaro’s family members tried repeatedly to get his personal effects back from Rossman and were unsuccessful. That’s when they contacted the sheriff’s department. Rossman returned all of the items except the Home Depot and Walmart gift cards that were in Penicaro’s wallet when she took it, according to the police report. Several family members said they recalled her taking the cards.
Rossman claims they fell out in the coroner’s vehicle and she found them later. However, another deputy with the coroner’s office who also used the vehicle told investigators they were not there when they had last used it.
Deputies from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department arrested Rossman Thursday afternoon, and coroner Steve VanDerAa terminated her employment. She is free on bond.