Special prosecutor declines to file charges in CPD time card investigation

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A special prosecutor investigating misconduct allegations at the Columbus Police Department has declined to file criminal charges against 17 police officers who were found to have been paid by CPD and Columbus Regional Health for overlapping hours over the course of several years.

In a 19-page outline of his conclusion released on Friday, Special Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal said CPD’s handwritten timekeeping system prior to 2019 was “rife with inaccuracy” and “created at least the potential for manipulation” but said there was “insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the CPD officers had committed criminal offenses.

“As such, the special prosecutor has concluded that no criminal charges shall be filed, that the criminal investigation into this matter should now be closed and that no further action be taken,” Gaal stated in the report.

In a separate investigation regarding former Police Chief Jon Rohde, special prosecutor Doug Brown of Decatur County said there was no criminal conduct and insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the former chief engaged in criminal conduct.
Brown credited Rohde with the launch of the new time keeping system on Jan. 1, 2019 saying he should be credited for resolving the department’s time-keeping issue.”

The special prosecutor’s decision concludes an investigation that started in 2020 after the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office received documents from a member of the public that had appeared to have been obtained through a public records request.

The investigation, which was led by Indiana State Police, included serving a search warrant on the City of Columbus to seize CPD’s timekeeping records dating back to 2016. CPD also provided state police with the results of its internal investigation into the matter. Additionally, the Indiana State Board of Accounts subpoenaed CRH’s payment records for dates prior to 2016.

The special prosecutor’s report comes nearly two years after former Columbus police officers Dan Meister and Ron May received suspended sentences by a special judge after pleading guilty to working a second job providing security at CRH while clocked in as city police officers.

The two officers were placed under supervised probation until it could be verified that they had paid all restitution, court costs and fines.

For the complete story, see Tuesday’s Republic.