EE Sewer District employee facing felony theft, forgery counts

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A Switzerland County woman is facing numerous felony charges after an Indiana State Police investigation.

Earlier this year the Indiana State Board of Accounts was notified of various discrepancies in the East Enterprise Regional Sewer Board account and conducted an audit.

After the audit revealed probable criminal activity, the Indiana State Police was notified.

After a two month criminal investigation, Crystal Hollen, 39, of East Enterprise, was arrested without incident by Detective Glen Potts on Monday. After appearing in Switzerland County Court, she was released on her own recognizance. She is charged with 36 counts of Theft (Class D Felony) and 36 counts of Forgery (Class C Felony).

According to the Probable Cause Affidavit filed in the Switzerland County Courthouse. Detective Potts met with Ron Robertson, Ron Aldrich, and Sara Wert of the Indiana State Board of Accounts on April 15th, 2010. At that time Sara Wert, who was the lead auditor in the investigation, informed Detective Potts that 36 checks had been written by Crystal Elam over a period beginning on January 22nd, 2009 through June 24th, 2009.

The checks totaled $27,034.66.

In the Probable Cause Affidavit, Sara Wert and Glen Potts met with officials at MainSource Bank in East Enterprise on April 19th, and showed them copies of 36 checks. Those checks were identified and were written payable to Crystal Ellam and Crystal Ellam Hollen.

Suspicious of the activity, MainSource officials heard from Keith Penick, who was at the time the President of the East Enterprise Regional Sewer District.

Keith Penick said that Crystal Hollen would give financial reports at board meetings, and that would always be what he thought to be legitimate. Keith Penick told investigators that he became more suspicious in September of 2009 when Larry Stewart, a contract employee of the East Enterprise Regional Sewer District, attempted to cash his paycheck, but the bank informed him that there were insufficient funds in the account.

The probable cause affidavit stated that after obtaining copies of the checks that were written from the account, Keith Penick, “…Noticed several checks written to Crystal from the account and that the checks seemed to be written out of sequence.”

He also noticed that the name written on all of the checks in question was not his signature; and that he had not given Crystal Hollen permission to write any of the checks.

The probable cause affidavit says that Sara Wert then went to Crystal Hollen’s residence, and after not finding anyone at home, Detective Potts contacted Linda Elam, a board member of the East Enterprise Regional Sewer District and the mother of Crystal Elam Hollen.

During that telephone interview, Linda Elam told Detective Potts that she did not give Crystal Hollen permission to write any of the checks in question; and that the name on the checks was not her signature.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Linda Elam told Detective Potts that she had paid all of the money back to the account that Crystal Hollen had taken. Linda Elam also informed Detective Potts that she had obtained an attorney, Della Swincher of Vevay, for Crystal, and that she would like her daughter to speak to the attorney prior to being questioned by the detective.

The probable cause affidavit states that on April 19th at approximately 6 p.m., Detective Potts received a telephone call from Crystal Hollen, who told him that she wanted to talk to him, but that she had an appointment with her attorney and would contact the detective following that appointment.

On May 10th, Detective Potts contacted the attorney and arranged an interview with Crystal Hollen, which was scheduled for Tuesday, May 11th, at the Versailles State Police post. Sara Wert was also present at the interview on May 11th.

At that interview, the probable cause affidavit states that Crystal Hollen was given copies of the 36 checks; and that at that time she stated that she had forged the signatures of Keith Penick and Linda Elam on each check.

She told investigators that she was not sure of the total amount of the checks, but thought that she had taken approximately $12,000.

“Crystal stated that when she started to write the checks she had intentions of returning all the money back to the sewer district,” the probable cause affidavit cites.

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“When she was notified by the State Board of Accounts that there was a discrepancy, she cooperated in their investigation,” attorney Della Swincher said by telephone on Tuesday afternoon. “That was back in October or November. The entire $27,000 plus a little bit was repaid in November, 2009. The State Board of Accounts met with her back then and the board, and they told her that they didn’t know if there were going to be criminal charges filed or not, but it was certainly helpful that all of the money had been repaid.”

Della Swincher said that near the end of their investigation, the State Board of Accounts notified the State Police, and that Crystal Hollen had met voluntarily with the State Police.

“She gave them a full statement and answered all of their questions,” Della Swincher said. “She met with the State Board of Accounts with them again; and agreed to turn herself in Monday morning at the sheriff’s office. She was not arrested at her home. She did, in fact, turn herself in to the court. She has coorperated fully with all aspects of the investigation.”