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 Former CAB Business Manager Facing Six Felonies

May 9, 2007 - The Henry County Prosecutor has filed six felony charges against Amanda Zurwell, the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation’s former business manager.

Zurwell, who began working at CAB in September and resigned in January, was charged April 24 in the Henry Superior Court I with two counts of forgery and four counts of theft. The crimes were, according to papers filed with the court, allegedly committed against the school corporation during the four-and-a-half months Zurwell was employed at CAB.

The two forgery counts are based on allegations Zurwell forged two typewritten checks payable from CAB to “Amanda J. Harvey,” the name she used when she first began work at CAB, before she married: a $2,297.19 check in December, and $2,651.50 check in early January. The four theft charges stem from an unauthorized pay increase Zurwell allegedly gave herself following the resignation of the corporation’s payroll clerk, Angela Moss, on December 1.

Court records indicate that Zurwell was arrested on the six Henry County charges on Monday, April 30, and that she posted a $40,000 surety bond. An initial hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15, at 11 a.m. Papers filed with the court show the Henry County Sheriff’s Department began investigating Zurwell’s work at CAB in early February at the request of Superintendent David McGuire. The seven week investigation headed by HCSD Detective Sgt. Elmer New included interviews with Zurwell, McGuire, Moss, former CAB Treasurer Judy Barnes, new Business Manager David Bundy, and an examiner from the Indiana State Board of Accounts who had reviewed CAB’s financial records from July 1, 2006, through January 19, the effective date of Zurwell’s resignation.

Although Zurwell is alleged to have forged two checks, New said in a 12-page report detailing his investigation that Zurwell only received and cashed the December 8 check for $2,297.19. The second check, issued January 5 for $2,641.50, was discovered and voided before Zurwell cashed it. Both checks had been typewritten – not processed on the computer like other payroll checks – and were endorsed on the front using a rubber stamp of Barnes’ signature.

New said in his report that he interviewed Zurwell at her home on Tuesday, March 27. He said Zurwell acknowledged receiving and signing the back of the $2,297.19 check, but could not tell him why she had received it. When shown the January 5 check for $2,651.50, he said Zurwell “stated she could not remember that check that well, only that she had been making a lot of errors on payroll.”

According to the SBA and New, after Zurwell took over payroll duties, a second employee file was set up under her maiden name, Harvey. They said the employee ID number assigned to this file was “1381,” which was reportedly Zurwell’s ID number with a “1” in front of it. Additionally, the SBA and New report that the social security number listed in the new employee file was one digit off from Zurwell’s actual number.

“Ms. Zurwell stated she knew of the two employee informations,” New reported, “but could not remember the reason why they were produced.”

The four theft counts Zurwell is facing are based on the SBA’s determination that Zurwell was overpaid for pay periods ending December 1, 15 and 29, and January 12. While Zurwell’s gross pay should have been $2,423.08 every two weeks, until January 1 when a two-percent raise went into effect, the SBA said that Zurwell’s biweekly gross pay increased to $3,000 once she took over.

Zurwell reportedly told New that she did not know why her gross pay had increased to $3,000 per pay period. New said she again told him “there had been errors in the payroll after she had taken over the process,” and that she was unaware of receiving a raise.

The two forgery charges against Zurwell are Class C felonies that each carry a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The maximum sentence possible for the each of the four counts of theft, which are Class D felonies, is three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Zurwell is also facing criminal charges in Brown County, the result of an investigation into her alleged theft of funds from her former employer Brown County School Corp., where she had worked as a treasurer. During a review of financial records in December, BCSC officials had discovered a check for $3,132 was missing. In March, the Brown County Prosecutor charged Zurwell with a single count of theft, alleging she stole the check last summer when she left her position at BCSC.

In addition to the six criminal charges she is now facing in Henry County, Zurwell could also have to repay CAB more than $7,000. In addition to the $2,297.19 check and the four overpayments received after December 1, the SBA also concluded that Zurwell had actually been overpaid from her very first paycheck. Based on her annual salary of $63,000, the SBA said Zurwell should have received gross payments of $2,423.08 for each two-week pay period, not the $2,742.99 paid to her for the first six pay periods while Moss was still in charge of payroll. Additionally, the SBA said Zurwell’s first paycheck should have only been for one week, not two, because she started in the middle of a pay period.

New said in his report that Zurwell told him she did not know why she was overpaid during the time Moss was doing payroll. Moss reportedly told New that these initial overpayments to Zurwell were the result of an error she made related to payment of Zurwell’s health insurance benefits.

Regardless of who was responsible for the overpayment on Zurwell’s first six paychecks, the SBA’s preliminary report indicates the agency plans to ask Zurwell to repay CAB $3,131, the amount of the initial overpayment. The SBA says Zurwell should also repay the school corporation $1,620.54 for the overpayments that occurred after December 1, when she took over payroll, as well as $2,297.19 for the one check she is alleged to have forged and cashed, for a total of $7,048.73.

 

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