Jasper Circuit Court Judge Hears Misappropriation Case; No Decision Yet

Linda Belork

The attorney for the Starke County Commissioners, as well as the attorney for Linda Belork and Ohio Casualty, appeared before Judge John Potter in Jasper Circuit Court yesterday. Attorney Martin Lucas, representing the commissioners, and Ethan Lowe, representing Linda Belork and Ohio Casualty, presented evidence supporting their case to the Judge. Both attorneys were given 30 minutes and were occasionally interrupted by the judge with questions.

Lucas painted the picture of a board of commissioners faced with a report from the State Board of Accounts stating that $900,000 was misappropriated in the treasurer’s office, and the commissioners acted according to statute by removing her from office and filing suit against her bond. He also stated that Belork was consistently late with her monthly 47-TR forms.

“When she finally delivered them to the commissioners, they were not useful because the numbers didn’t add up,” Lucas said.

The 47-TR report is sent to the state confirming that the figures in the treasurer’s office balances with the bank and the auditor’s office. Finally, Lucas argued that Belork didn’t prepare for the 2011 Fall Tax Sale.

Starke County Commissioners Kathy Norem, Dan Bridegroom and Jennifer Davis

Lowe argued that the commissioners knew one week after the report of the misappropriated $900,000 that the money was not stolen or lost. He blamed the error on the payroll department in the auditor’s office.

“And even after finding out the money wasn’t missing, the commissioners allowed the temporary restraining order to remain in place for five months,” Lowe said. “I believe the motives and actions of the commissioners must be looked at.”

Lowe also claimed because of the commissioners actions, Belork’s reputation in the community has been ruined. Judge Potter took the matter under advisement, promising a decision within 90 days.