INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana’s Inspector General is rebuking claims by Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry that his office never received the full investigative file on Tony Bennett, the embattled former state superintendent.
On Thursday, Inspector General Thomas David told reporters his office delivered 12 binders of information to the Marion County Prosecutor, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in February of this year.
These contained the results of an extensive investigation regarding the alleged activities of former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and members of his staff.
“Contrary to recent reports issued by the MCPO, the investigative materials were indeed provided to Prosecutor Curry in February 2014. The attached email demonstrates that Prosecutor Curry’s office confirmed receipt of the multiple binders. See Attachment A. It is standard practice for our office to maintain exact copies of case files provided to prosecuting authorities,” Thomas said in a statement.
An attached email can be found here: OIG email to prosecutor
Thomas’ statement continued as follows:
“The OIG recognizes and respects the authority of the MCPO. To that end, an updating summary report was provided to the MCPO in November 2013, just before I presented the allegations of Mr. Bennett’s Code of Ethics violations to the State Ethics Commission, the only authority with the jurisdiction over such administrative matters. This report was for information purposes only as the MCPO does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate complaints alleging violations of the Code of Ethics. The results of the criminal investigations related to this case were subsequently presented to the MCPO along with federal prosecuting authorities in February 2014 because they are the appropriate law enforcement agencies to address criminal matters.
It is understandable that files may be lost in the largest prosecutor’s office in the State which processes thousands of filings. Accordingly, I have instructed our Special Agents to prepare a copy of the materials that were previously provided to Prosecutor Curry and re-submit to his office.”
On Wednesday, Curry claimed he had never received the full investigative file on Bennett. His response followed an Associated Press article this week that raised new questions about Bennett’s activities while in office.
That Associated Press article stated the news organization reviewed a 95-page Inspector General report that recommended Bennett face federal wire fraud charges and ghost employment charges for allegedly misusing state resources during his 2012 campaign.
The state settled an ethics complaint with Bennett this summer. He paid a $5000 fine but no charges were filed.
Peg McLeish, a spokeswoman for Curry’s office, said it is still trying to determine what occurred.
“What I can tell you is working to confirm the circumstances on the alleged delivery. We have contacted federal agencies to review what was provided to them,” she said.
When asked if there was still the potential to file charges against Bennett, even though the office previously declined to do so, McLeish said, “Yes, if there is additional information that is different than what we reviewed.”
She declined to elaborate on how the mix up could have occurred, but said, “The real issue is whether there is a criminal case against the state’s former superintendent.”
She added that her office should receive the copies they need soon, adding that other agencies are “actively working to get those materials to us to review.”