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Frankfort investigation into park funds leads to firing

Investigators are looking into possible monetary misappropriations within the Frankfort Parks Department.

Posted: Oct 15, 2017 4:15 PM
Updated: Oct 15, 2017 4:15 PM

CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Investigators are looking into possible monetary misappropriations within the Frankfort Parks Department.

Earlier this week, Parks Superintendent Joel Tatum was fired pending investigation.

Frankfort is currently without a permanent parks superintendent.

This comes after city leaders recently discovered financial variances within the parks department.

Human Resources Director Jack Dodd says accusations were first brought to his attention a few weeks ago.

City ordinance requires city leaders to be informed when there's a loss of $1,000 or more. In this case, the variances met that threshold.

"I advised the mayor, city clerk-treasurer on following those policies," said Dodd.

Mayor Chris McBarnes said, "It's our obligation to turn this over to the authorities and let them come in and investigate."

That's when Frankfort Police opened an investigation. McBarnes stressed that he's not accusing anybody of any wrongdoing.

"PD was brought in simply as a witness and then when evidence was found, we engaged our detectives and that evidence was handed over to them and now that is locked up in property evidence," said McBarnes.

In light of the investigation, Tatum was placed on paid administrative leave. Tatum was offered another position within the department but turned it down.

He was fired on Wednesday. Dodd says this will be used as an opportunity to find ways to prevent this from happening again.

"It's unfortunate that we have to spend time doing this but this is what the citizens of Frankfort put us here to do is to watch for this," said Dodd.

McBarnes responded, "I hope and pray that this situation was purely administrative and nothing beyond that."

In the meantime Street Superintendent, Jason Forsythe will serve as interim parks superintendent. McBarnes says the city is currently seeking someone to permanently fill the role.

McBarnes says he could not disclose the total losses because the investigation is still ongoing. He says written communication will soon be sent to the State Board of Accounts and Clinton County Prosecutor.

News 18 tried reaching out to Tatum for comment, but we still have yet to hear back.

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