School attorney testifies that embezzled funds cause for freezing of treasurer’s assets

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The Switzerland County School Corporation went to court last Thursday in an attempt to freeze the assets of former corporation treasurer Ann Geyman. During testimony in front of Judge Ted Todd in Jefferson County Circuit Court, school corporation attorney Ron Hocker confirmed that the amount of money that is unaccounted for is near $1 million.

The school corporation had filed a preliminary injunction that asked the court to freeze bank accounts, property and other assets of Ann Geyman until the situation with the school’s funds is finalized.

Testifying on behalf of the school corporation, Ron Hocker answered a series of questions posed by C. Duane O’Neal, attorney for the law firm of Lewis and Kappes in Indianapolis – which is representing the schools.

C. Duane O’Neal took Ron Hocker through a series of questions and evidence exhibits, all of which pointed to Ann Geyman as the person who was responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars that were found to be missing last week by school officials and the State Board of Accounts.

But it was one question that sent shock waves through those in the courtroom – and in Switzerland County.

After having Ron Hocker take the court through the events of Wednesday night, May 9th, when Ann Geyman returned from a business seminar in Fort Wayne, Indiana to face questions about the missing funds. C. Duane O’Neal asked Ron Hocker, “Are there any more checks?”

“Yes,” was Ron Hocker’s answer.

“Do you have a total?,” C. Duane O’Neal continued.

“Between $900,000 and $1 million,” Ron Hocker stated, “But that is tentative. The audit isn’t finished yet.”

EVIDENCE

In beginning his questioning, C. Duane O’Neal asked Ron Hocker in what capacity he knew Ann Geyman . When Ron Hocker answered that he knew her through the school corporation, where he is the school’s counsel and she is the corporation treasurer; C. Duane O’Neal asked if Ron Hocker knew what Ann Geyman’s duties were.

After going through the duties, including paying the school’s bills and handling the finances, C. Duane O’Neal asked if Ann Geyman had check writing authority.

“Yes,” was the answer.

“Does anyone else have check signing authority?”

“No,” Ron Hocker said.

Ron Hocker stated that he was aware that the State Board of Accounts was currently conducting an audit of the school corporation’s books, and that the audit had uncovered inaccuracies.

In presenting evidence, C. Duane O’Neal showed the court and Ron Hocker a series of exhibits that included copies of checks. The attorney told the court that there were two sets of checks – one copy that was obtained from MainSource Bank through its records; and a second set that was furnished by Ann Geyman to explain expenditures to school officials and auditors.

– The first check was check #2830 and was made payable to “Med-Ben” in the amount of $12,102.37. This check copy had been supplied by Ann Geyman; and “Med-Ben” is an insurance provider to the school corporation.

The second check was also check #2830 and was in the amount of $12,102.37. It was a copy of the check that was supplied by MainSource Bank, but instead of being payable to “Med-Ben” the check that came from the bank was payable to “Washington Mutual”. The account number on the check was a personal credit card account in the name of “Ann Center”, which was Ann Geyman’s name before she got married.

– The second set of checks that were accepted into evidence were two checks that were on the same monthly bank statement.

Check #18940, as provided by Ann Geyman to auditors, was made payable to “AFLAC”, a supplemental insurance provider to the school corporation, in the amount of $2,012.87. Check #18940, as provided by MainSource Bank, was payable to “American Express”. It was acknowledged that the school corporation does have an American Express credit card account, the account number on the check was not the school’s account; but was a personal account in the name of “Ann Center”.

Check #18941 as provided by Ann Geyman was for $9,621.92, and was made payable to “American Fidelity”, an organization that provides supplemental insurance plans to employees. But check #18941, as provided by MainSource Bank to auditors, was made payable to “Citibank”, and the school corporation does not have a “Citibank” account, the account number on the check was a personal account in the name of “Ann Center”.

“Does the school have a Citibank account?” C. Duane O’Neal asked.

“No,” was Ron Hocker’s reply.

CONFRONTING THE PROBLEM

C. Duane O’Neal asked Ron Hocker if school officials had confronted Ann Geyman about the inconsistencies, and Ron Hocker said that they did – on Wednesday, May 9th. He said that superintendent Tracy Caddell confronted Ann Geyman in a telephone conversation while she was at a seminar in Fort Wayne, and that he asked her to return to Switzerland County and meet with school officials on Wednesday night.

“Were you present at that meeting?” C. Duane O’Neal asked Ron Hocker.

“Yes.”

“Who else was present?”

“Superintendent Caddell, assistant superintendent Gullion, myself, and Ann,” was Ron Hocker’s response.

C. Duane O’Neal asked Ron Hocker to describe Ann Geyman’s demeanor at the Wednesday night meeting, and Ron Hocker testified that she was “teary, almost inaudible.”

When asked if she confessed to taking the funds, Ron Hocker said that she did confess to the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and him at the Wednesday night meeting.

“Her response was that she had paid her bills with our funds,” Ron Hocker said. “She said that her husband had a gambling problem and this was her only way out.”

That’s when C. Duane O’Neal asked if Ron Hocker knew of more checks – and the full depth of the situation came to light.

MAINTAINING THE STATUS QUO

C. Duane O’Neal told the court that the school corporation didn’t want to “attach” any of Ann Geyman’s assets at this time, but that the corporation was in court on Thursday only to “maintain the status quo” until a final resolution to the case could be found.

Defense attorney Darrell Auxier stated that it seemed to him as though the school corporation was asking for an attachment, which would have required additional supporting paperwork that had not been filed.

“We’re not asking for an attachment,” C. Duane O’Neal said. “We just want to keep things as they are until this is concluded.”

In asking the court to grant the preliminary injunction and freeze assets, C. Duane O’Neal questioned Ron Hocker about whether or not he had knowledge of Ann Geyman having bank accounts, owning real estate, or having credit cards.

Ron Hocker said that he knew of two properties that Ann Geyman was listed on: a brand new home located at 1829 Telegraph Hill Road that was deeded to “Raymond Geyman and Ann Geyman, husband and wife”; and a residential structure located at 4283 North 600 West in Madison. That property is deeded to “Harriet Ruth Weatherbee of Jefferson County, Indiana, a life estate interest, Ann L. Geyman of Jefferson County, Indiana, and Bradley D. Weatherbee, of Clark County, Indiana, as tenants in common of the remainder interest, (Grantees)….”

When asked about the second piece of property, Ron Hocker said that he believed that Harriet Ruth Weatherbee was Ann Geyman’s mother; but he did not know who Bradley Weatherbee was.

C. Duane O’Neal then introduced a list of credit card numbers. He stated that these numbers were found in the desk drawers in the office of the treasurer of the Switzerland County School Corporation. The list of credit cards attached to the preliminary injunction showed 19 credit cards from various creditors.

Two of those credit cards – one for American Express and one for Citibank – that were on the list had the same account numbers as were listed on the checks in question.

“Do you fear that these assets might be dissipated by Mrs. Geyman prior to the resolution of this matter?,” C. Duane O’Neal asked Ron Hocker.

“Yes.”

“Mrs. Geyman has admitted the embezzlement to you, hasn’t she?” C. Duane O’Neal asked again.

“Yes,” was the response from Ron Hocker.

DEFENSE

Ann Geyman was not present at Thursday’s hearing, and was represented by Madison attorneys Darrell M. Auxier and Jason J. Pattison.

Darrell Auxier asked Ron Hocker if he had any reason to believe that Raymond Geyman had any knowledge of this matter. When Ron Hocker answered no, Darrell Auxier told the court that one of the accounts that the school corporation hoped to freeze was where Raymond Geyman’s social security check was direct-deposited into.

He then asked if Ron Hocker knew if a PERF (Public Employees Retirement Fund) account can be used to satisfy a judgment. When Ron Hocker answered that he didn’t, Darrell Auxier told the court that Indiana law says that a PERF account cannot be executed upon to satisfy a judgment against an individual.

“If the argument is that we have to freeze these assets because if we get a judgment we need these assets, then if they can’t use them, why would we freeze them?,” Darrell Auxier told the court.

In their closing arguments, the two attorneys reiterated their positions, with C. Duane O’Neal asserting that the schools need to maintain the status quo and Darrell Auxier questioning the breadth of the freeze.

“We don’t understand why those assets would be frozen if they can’t be executed,” Darrell Auxier said. “We don’t think that the court should prevent her from borrowing money off of credit cards, because that doesn’t have anything to do with this matter.”

“We’ve heard testimony that there’s $900,000 missing,” C. Duane O’Neal said. “Where is it?”

“Basically we’re here on a fishing expedition,” Darrell Auxier countered. “Let’s freeze everything in case we find something.”

The defense called no witnesses during the hearing, and Judge Todd took a recess to consider the evidence.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

After a brief recess, Judge Todd stated that he did find cause to order the preliminary injunction, and suggested that the defense team have Raymond Geyman open his own account for his social security check to be put into. When Darrell Auxier told the court that another account had already been opened, but that there was the possibility that his next check may not be redirected, the judge told both sides that he assumed that could be worked out, with both sides agreeing.

With the preliminary injunction now in place, both sides wait for the final report of the State Board of Accounts. No date for the completion of that report has been issued.