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There's a controversy brewing in the small Hamilton County community of Sheridan involving allegations of ghost employment; however, sources say they cannot go to the police with their complaints since the allegations are being made against the town's top law enforcement officer and his deputy chief.
According to insiders, Sheridan Police Chief Jeff Weir fired the town's School Resource Officer last March and took the job for himself. Sources say that after former SRO Brock Walker was fired from a position that he helped create and for which he obtained a federal grant to fund the position, Weir began carrying out those official duties during the hours for which he already worked as the town's police chief.
"He collected two paychecks for carrying out the duties for two jobs worked during the same time period," commented a source who says he has direct knowledge of the situation. "That sounds like ghost employment to me, which is a felony offense. Police officers should uphold the laws, not break them."
The Sheridan Community School Board Minutes dated March 8, 2010 appear to support the allegations that Walker was terminated, effective March 1, 2010, and that Weir was recommended for the position by the school board.
In addition, insiders also allege that Deputy Chief Bill Curl serves as the School Resource Officer for the elementary school during the same daytime hours for which he is also assigned duties related to his position at the police department.
"The issue of ghost employment was raised with the chief, but he insisted that what he was doing was perfectly legal," commented a source who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
"We'd like for the attorney general to investigate the matter and we have to ask for it anonymously for obvious reasons," commented one source in hopes that their message would reach the proper authorities via this blog.
Insiders are also upset that Walker was fired without just cause, and they would like to see to it that the officer's good name is restored through an independent investigation into the matter.
I have to agree with the source, and the fact that Chief Weir and his deputy are getting two paychecks doesn't pass the smell test either. If the actions of Weir and Curl are legal, then they shouldn't mind a little public scrutiny from the State Board of Accounts or the Attorney General. After all, an officer's reputation and future employment may depend upon it.
Actually, since federal funds are involved in the payment for the second job, the U.S. Attorney's office should be investigating. U.S. Attorney Timothy Morrison could pursue a civil action to recover the money as well as pursue violations of criminal law. Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp could file state criminal charges for ghost employment and the Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller could file a civil action for the police officers taking money from local government coffers while employed in a federal position. I wouldn't hold my breath on any of these individuals taking action on matters involving possible ghost employment by public officials.