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 Former CAB Business Manager Zurwell Ordered to Pay Over $7,000

May 27, 2009 - A Henry County judge has ordered a former Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation business manager to pay the state more than $7,000.

The Indiana Attorney General's office filed a Complaint for Recovery of Public Funds against Amanda Zurwell, CAB's business manager from September 2006 through mid-January 2007, in the Henry Circuit Court on Feb. 9. On March 31, Henry Circuit Court Judge Mary Willis entered a default judgment against Zurwell for $7,291.03, the full amount requested by the state, plus court costs.

In its complaint, the state alleged Zurwell caused CAB to suffer losses of $3,373.30 and $3,917.73 during the short time she worked for CAB. The state's case was based on the findings of a special audit report issued by the State Board of Accounts in May 2007.

According to the SBA's audit, Zurwell was overpaid $3,373.30 during the little over four months she was employed by CAB, and was inappropriately overpaid another $1,620.54 during her last few weeks with the school corporation. The SBA also said Zurwell had endorsed and cashed an unauthorized typewritten check from CAB payable to her in the amount of $2,297.19.

The default judgment was entered against Zurwell after, as Willis noted in her order, she "failed to appear, plead or otherwise respond to the complaint." An entry on the court's chronological case summary notes that Zurwell received the state's complaint and summons, which had been served on her by certified mail, on Feb. 27.

While the default judgment entered by Willis is a civil proceeding, the circumstances detailed in the SBA's audit also have Zurwell facing criminal charges in another Henry County court. In a case that has been pending in Henry Superior Court 1 since April 2007, Zurwell is charged with four felony counts of theft and two felony counts of forgery.

The Henry County Prosecutor's office alleges Zurwell forged two checks payable to herself -- the one for $2,297.19 that the SBA says she endorsed and cashed, and a second one for $2,651.50 that was discovered and voided before it was cashed. The four counts of theft are related to the salary overpayments she allegedly made to herself after taking over payroll duties at CAB.

The two forgery counts each carry a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and fines of $10,000, while the maximum sentence for each theft count is three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Zurwell's criminal trial, which has been continued eight times since charges were first filed, is now set for Tuesday, June 9, at 8:30 a.m.

Zurwell also has a small claims case pending against CAB that she filed in April 2008, claiming the school corporation owes her $1,587.03 for "contract salary underpayment, unpaid cell phone stipend, and taxes erroneously held." CAB filed a counterclaim against Zurwell for $7,281, citing the results of the SBA's special audit. That case, by the agreement of both parties, was continued indefinitely without a new trial date being set.

In April 2008, Zurwell pleaded guilty to one count of theft in a Brown County Court with respect to a $3,132 check stolen in July 2006 from her employer at the time, Brown County School Corporation. Last June, she was sentenced to 180 days of home detention, one year of probation and 80 hours of community service for that offense.


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