AG Curtis Hill will appeal decision denying recovery of funds allegedly misappropriated by Lake County school officials
Attorney General Curtis Hill announced today his office will appeal a Lake County judge’s decision prohibiting the state from recovering funds overpaid to two former administrators in the Munster school district.
In 2016, the State Board of Accounts (SBOA) found that former Superintendent William Pfister and former Assistant Superintendent Richard Sopko, both now retired, received annuity payments during their tenure to which they were not entitled. The SBOA designated more than $841,000 as misappropriated — $463,922.75 of which went to Pfister and $377,475.28 of which went to Sopko.
A Lake County judge ordered that the state could not collect any damages that arose before May 23, 2012, opining that the statute of limitations had expired. However, Indiana law is clear that the statute of limitations begins running at the point the SBOA refers an audit to the Office of the Attorney General. In this case, such a referral occurred on June 8, 2016. The Office of the Attorney General filed its complaint on May 23, 2017, a date well within the statute of limitations.
“This ruling completely disregards the SBOA audit report process,” Attorney General Hill said. “Cases arising out of SBOA audits are especially important to the state because their purpose is to protect public funds. The state must always be able to recoup taxpayer dollars and root out fraud committed by public officials and employees. We must hold those who violate the law accountable, and we must ensure that those who take wrongful advantage of their positions of trust do not profit from ill-gotten gains.”
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