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Former CAB Business Manager Zurwell Punished for Theft in Brown County
July 2, 2008 - A former business manager for the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation will spend six months on home detention for stealing more than $3,000 from Brown County Community Schools.
Amanda Zurwell, CAB's business manager from September 2006 through mid-January 2007, pleaded guilty in April to theft, a Class D felony, for her July 2006 theft of a $3,312 check from BCSC, where she worked before CAB. She was sentenced June 23 in the Brown Circuit Court to 180 days of home detention, one year of probation and 80 hours of community service; she faced a maximum of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver told The Banner that he thought the court's sentencing decision was reasonable in light of the circumstances. He said Zurwell had already made full restitution to BCSC before his office filed the theft charge against her in March 2007.
Because she resides in Hancock County, Zurwell's home detention will be overseen by that county's department of community corrections. The sentencing order also says Zurwell will be allowed to petition the court to reduce her felony conviction to a misdemeanor if she successfully completes her probation.
Her Brown County case resolved, Zurwell continues to face six felony charges in Henry Superior Court 1 stemming from her brief employment at CAB. She is alleged to have forged two CAB checks payable to herself - one for $2,297.19 that was cashed, and one for $2,651.50 that was voided by CAB before being cashed - and with overpaying herself about $2,300 after taking over payroll duties for the school corporation.
Four potential witnesses in Zurwell's Henry County case - former CAB Superintendent David McGuire, former CAB Treasurer Judy Barnes, former CAB payroll clerk Angela Moss and Henry County Sheriff's Dept. Detective Elmer New - were questioned under oath recently during depositions requested by Zurwell's attorney. A jury trial is scheduled for August 18.
The two forgery charges facing Zurwell are Class C felonies that each carry a maximum of eight years in prison and fines of $10,000. The four theft charges are, like the one in Brown County, Class D felonies that could each bring up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In late April, Zurwell filed a small claims lawsuit against CAB alleging the school corporation owes her $1,587.03 for "contract salary underpayment, unpaid cell phone stipend, and taxes erroneously held," and seeking $86 in court costs. Citing a State Board of Accounts audit, CAB's attorney, Mike Wallman, filed a counterclaim against Zurwell on May 19 for $7,281.
According to Henry Superior Court 2 Judge Bob Witham, the amount of money CAB is seeking in its counterclaim could result in the case being transferred to either Henry Circuit Court or Superior Court 1. He said that was because Indiana's trial rules limit the jurisdiction of his court to small claims cases where damages do not exceed $6,000.
Zurwell's small claims case was initially set for trial May 29. Attorneys for Zurwell and CAB, however, agreed to a continuance, with no new date set at this time.
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