To the point week of 01-31-08

365

IT APPEARS THAT THE community is beginning to rebound from the ongoing situation involving the embezzlement of more than $1 million from the Switzerland County School Corporation.

School attorney Ron Hocker has confirmed that one of the bonding agencies has released $200,000 to the state, and those funds will eventually be returned to the school. There is also the possibility that more money from bonding companies could also be on its way here.

Former school treasurer Ann Geyman pleaded guilty late last week in an Indianapolis courtroom; and on March 7th she will face sentencing. A judge will consider the plea arrangement that she reached with authorities before pronouncing sentence – and if the judge follows that agreement, Ann Geyman should spend approximately four years in a detention facility, assuming she gets credit for good behavior.

But before she goes in front of that judge, the people of Switzerland County and others around this area will be privy to something rather unique – a sale of Ann Geyman’s personal items with the proceeds going to the school corporation to help settle the debt she owes.

A sale bill for that auction is found in today’s edition of this newspaper, and the sale will be held at the National Guard Armory in Madison on Saturday, February 9th.

A look at the sale bill shows that there are all sorts of items that will be up for bid – from a four wheeler to Longaberger baskets to many different collectibles.

But, as it stands now, there won’t be one thing at the auction that I think should be –

Ann Geyman.

Now it may sound a little cold – okay, a lot cold – but I think that the judge in the case should order Ann Geyman to attend the auction. I think we should get her a chair and set her up on the stage and let her watch her possessions one by one go to the highest bidder.

I think she owes that to the people of Switzerland County.

In many ways, the taxpayers of Switzerland County were “faceless” as Ann Geyman wrote hundreds of checks over a period of years, stealing money not only from taxpayers, but from the children of our county, as well.

No one may ever know, but perhaps our children didn’t get certain educational supplies because of a perceived lack of funds. Maybe teachers and staff didn’t get a bigger raise. Maybe the real people suffering in this are our children.

We can’t get that back. No matter how much of the money is recovered and no matter how sorry someone is about it.

Although we haven’t heard what happened on a first hand basis from Ann Geyman herself, the pattern that has been uncovered of embezzlements other places and the timeline that she began her embezzlement here indicates that she may have taken this job and come to Switzerland County with intent to embezzle funds.

If one looks at her date of hire and the date of the first forged check – it becomes pretty obvious what was going on.

I get to see a lot of people around this county, and most of them stop me and ask questions about things that they’ve heard about or things that they’ve read in the paper.

One of the most common questions that I get is this one:

“So what jail is Ann Geyman being held in?”

“She’s not in jail,” I answer. “She’s under house arrest in her home in Madison.”

“You mean our home,” is usually the closing response.

It may be a little “primitive” of me, but I think the people of this county deserve the chance to look her in the eye as they carry her belongings away. All of those things that she has collected over the years – those items that she has come to cherish, will all be walking out the door and into the homes and ownership of someone else.

And that will probably hurt.

Now I understand that Ann Geyman has fully accepted the responsibility for her actions, and I do commend her for that, but what I think also needs to happen is that she should feel the need to personally address the people of this county – and the children of this county.

I think we deserve an apology.

Should a judge really order her to that sale? Probably not; but I would like to make this open plea to Ann Geyman:

The pages of this newspaper are open to you and available to you should you decide to write a letter of apology for what you did to the people of this county.

We offer you as much or as little space as you may need – free of charge – on the editorial page of this newspaper.

Before March 7th, I urge you to settle things with the people you’ve harmed.

It wasn’t just money.

It was our money.