Griffith cop, former council member, suspended for stealing grant money
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent April 9, 2013 12:20PM
Updated: May 11, 2013 6:24AM
GRIFFITH — The Police Department’s former second-in-command was suspended for 30 days without pay at the end of February for theft of $1,691 in state grant and town monies.
Documents obtained by the Post-Tribune through the Freedom of Information Act show the department opened an internal investigation Feb. 19 against Sgt. Michael Gulley after it was determined he had falsified work hours records related to an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Traffic Grant from March 2009 through December 2012.
Gulley did not contest the allegations and repaid the money.
Gulley was appointed patrol lieutenant in June 2006 but was demoted by the town’s Safety Board in early November for “gross misconduct.” At the time of his 2006 promotion, Gulley was the town’s 4th Ward councilman.
In a letter dated Feb. 15, Officer Paul Sines, who’d taken over coordinating the ICJI Traffic Grant known as “Operation Pull Over” after Gulley was demoted, said he couldn’t find grant paperwork Gulley was supposed to have completed Dec. 22. Sines said he printed out the blank report for his records. When Sines returned to work Dec. 26, Gulley had filled out and submitted a grant worksheet.
Sines examined Gulley’s paperwork against times and dates and found discrepancies. He reported those discrepancies to Interim Griffith Police Chief Matt Moore, the letter said.
Sines then received an email Feb. 8 from Northwest Law Enforcement Liaison Jeanette Bennett, of the ICJI Traffic Safety Division, saying she would be auditing the paperwork of officers who work the grant because an officer in a different department was found to be falsifying records. She said in her email that coordinators should thoroughly check their grant officers’ paperwork.
Sines said in his letter he immediately forwarded Bennett’s email to Moore and reiterated his concerns. By Feb. 11, Moore, Sgt. Jeff Gang and now-Chief Greg Mance directed Sines to audit the 2011-2012 grant paperwork.
Of the 11 errors found to be made by Gulley, several were suspect. A further audit conducted by Sines showed that between March 2009 and December 2012, Gulley falsified 36 hours of work for a total of $1,691, Mance said.
At a Feb.13 meeting, Bennett said Gulley was suspended from participating in any further ICJI grants. The next day, she informed the department it was also suspended from ICJI grants until an investigation of Gulley’s paperwork was complete.
Gulley was suspended Feb. 19 with pay, a letter to Griffith Safety Board Chairman Jim Marker from Moore stated. A letter from Marker to Gulley dated Feb. 25 said the Safety Board had found Gulley guilty of violating rules and “conduct unbecoming an officer.”
Gulley’s 30-day, unpaid suspension started Feb. 27, and he was ordered to attend the March 14 Safety Board executive session. Details of that meeting are unknown. The board meets for another executive session Thursday to discuss “job performance evaluation of individual employees.” Because it involves personnel issues, the meeting is closed to the public, although Gulley has indicated he will retire. A study session, which is open to the public, will follow.
Through the audit and adding a checks and balance system to the way the traffic grant is administered, the Griffith Police Department was reinstated to both its ICJI grant programs in March, Mance said. Since then, the administration has found no other instances of wrongdoing and has no reason to suspect it will.
“We believe this is an isolated incident to the individual officer,” Mance said. “I’ve spoken with (ICJI Traffic Safety Division Director) Ryan Klitsch, and he’s satisfied with the steps we’ve taken.”