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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 16, 2019 1:00 am

State VA being eyed for criminal activity

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Prosecutors have opened an investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing at the Indiana Department of Veterans' Affairs, months after it was revealed that some of the agency's employees were awarded grants intended for struggling veterans.

The office of Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry confirmed Tuesday that it had launched an investigation of the agency to determine if any laws were broken, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Indiana Inspector General Lori Torres earlier found there was mismanagement at the agency but that there wasn't sufficient evidence to warrant charges.

The probe by Curry's office is a surprise because Torres suggested in a report last month that prosecutors had reviewed her office's investigation and agreed with her assessment.

However, Curry's chief of staff, Peg McLeish, told The Indianapolis Star that while the prosecutor's office had informal conversations with an investigator from the inspector general's office, it did not see the final report or case file until it was made public last month.

“We did not formally decline prosecution and have opened an investigation into the matter,” she said. “The only thing we had before this report was very informal conversations.”

Stephanie McFarland, a spokeswoman for the inspector general's office, defended the report's assertion that prosecutors found insufficient evidence to support charges. She said “that was the viewpoint expressed to the OIG agent at the time this specific finding was presented.”

“The prosecutor, however, is always free to reevaluate,” McFarland said.