Former DCS caseworker sentenced to probation for official misconduct

A former family case manager who had been assigned to the Columbus office of Indiana’s child-welfare agency received probation after agreeing to plead guilty to terms of a plea bargain on charges of official misconduct and falsifying child abuse and neglect records.

In a plea agreement dated Aug. 8, Elizabeth Funk, 57, who formerly lived in rural Scipio, agreed to plead guilty to ghost employment as a Level 6 felony, official misconduct as a Level 6 felony, and a Class A misdemeanor charge of falsifying child abuse or neglect information on official records, court records state.

For each charge, Funk received one year for a total of three consecutive years from Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton. While the judge suspended the sentence to allow Funk to serve three years on probation, Worton stipulated his sentence “will not preclude the defendant from being committed to the Indiana Department of Correction at some later time if appropriate.”

While on probation, Funk will be prohibited from possessing or using any firearm, destructive device or dangerous weapon.

The former employee of the Bartholomew County office of the Indiana Department of Child Services has also agreed to pay $1,741 in restitution at a rate of $100 a month, an additional probation fee of $30 a month and a one-time payment of $285 in various court fees.

In exchange, the state agreed to dismiss two additional charges of official misconduct against Funk, as well as a misdemeanor count of theft.

Funk has moved from Jennings County to White County, located north of Lafayette, according to court records, so Worton ordered that her probation be handled by authorities in Monticello.

In a probable cause affidavit filed by the Indiana Office of the Inspector General, investigators said Funk served as a case manager from May 20, 2019 until she was terminated on or about Jan. 29, 2020 for “falsifying ‘311’ assessments related to child abuse/neglect investigations,” according to court records.

The allegations filed in court indicate Funk wrote in an assessment report that she had done an interview in a child neglect case that investigators later determined had not occurred.

Investigators also documented Funk’s travel vouchers and determined that, on some occasions, the vouchers and her reports did not coincide.

According to the investigator’s report, information gathered indicated Funk intentionally falsified child abuse or neglect information or records by making false entries in the state’s electronic management system and “311” assessment reports, the court affidavits state.

Investigators also allege Funk exerted unauthorized control over DCS funds during her work, falsely claiming travel expenditures for a trip she did not make, court affidavits state.

Funk is also accused of accepting state funds for the performance of duties not related to the operation of DCS between Sept. 2019 and January 2020 when she is accused of falsifying entries about contact visits with families, according to the court affidavits.