Starke County Prosecutor’s Office Coordinates With Indiana State Police on Wayne Township Audit Investigation

Between 2009 and 2016, approximately $20,278 was overpaid to the Trustee and Deputy Trustee of Wayne Township, according to information found in a 2017 Indiana State Board of Accounts audit.

After a compliance report allegedly uncovered some discrepancies with salary and rent payments in Wayne Township, the Starke County Prosecutor’s Office began coordinating with the Indiana State Police on an investigation into the accusations made against Trustee Clara Schacht and her husband, Deputy Trustee Donald Schacht.

The summary of charges due to malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance includes the overpayment of trustee and deputy trustee salaries, as well as the overpayment of office rent to the trustee.

Between January 1st of 2009 and December 31st of 2016, the trustee’s salary was reportedly $11,082 more than what was approved by the Wayne Township Board. The report also includes that Deputy Trustee Donald Schacht was overpaid $3,746.93.

Additionally, office rent paid to the trustee during that time was apparently overpaid by $5,450. When you add on the audit cost of $1,793.75 the full reimbursement amount totals $22,072.69.

State Board of Accounts Assistant Director Chase Lennon shared that when an audit turns up charges of noncompliance, the normal procedure is to have the accused work out a payment schedule to reimburse the funds to the Township.

He added that when further investigation is warranted, the report is sent to the Attorney General’s Office and to the local prosecuting attorney to have them assess if criminal charges are necessary.

Starke County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan said since this is a pending investigation, there aren’t too many details that can be provided at this time. However, she did share that the Prosecutor’s Office will not be able to do a formal review of the case file until ISP finishes their evaluation.

Deputy Prosecutor Ryan said currently, State Police are in the process of looking over various documents, such as bank records, to check into the charges included in the State Board of Accounts report. As they have multiple documents to review, there is no estimated time of completion.

During a brief interview with the Wayne Township Trustee, Schacht indicated that she has submitted preliminary paperwork to start the reimbursement process. She said she said the specific payment method and the amount of money that will be required per payment has yet to be established.

Schacht’s term as trustee ends on December 31st of this year. According to the list of candidate filings provided by the Starke County Clerk’s Office, Schacht did not file to run for the position again.