The City claims the suspicious spending dates back to at least 2016.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – The City of Lawrenceburg has filed a complaint against the Dearborn Adult Center, director Marie Edwards and assistant director Aaron Cook.
In the complaint filed this week, the City claims “suspicious spending” of DAC funds by Edwards and/or Cook that the City sees as inconsistent with the organization's public-benefit operations.
A portion of the City’s preliminary statement reads:
“The City tried to resolve the matter informally through a financial audit, but DAC and Edwards would not agree to it. Accordingly, the City is filing this Complaint for declaratory judgment that the DAC—through Edwards and/or Cook—has breached its agreements with the City, and to recover funds which were spent in contravention of the DAC’s public-benefit mission and agreements with the City.”
The City enters into annual contracts with the DAC to support their public benefit operations. In 2019 alone, the City said it provided over $250,000 to the DAC through a revenue sharing arrangement and by contract. Additional funds have been provided this year.
Marie Edwards tells Eagle Country 99.3 that she is very appreciative of the funding, but added that approximately 45 percent comes from the City.
Payments have been discontinued based on questionable requests for payment submitted by the DAC and purchases reflected in past bank records.
According to the complaint filed by the City, the DAC’s credit card statements allegedly show Cook purchased personal flights to and from Las Vegas, totaling $459.18.
Edwards admitted that Cook used the DAC credit card to purchase the flights, but also stated that he paid the full amount back.
Credit card statements revealed additional questionable charges that the City believes are inconsistent with the DAC’s public-benefit mission, including cell phone payments, life insurance payments, food and gas purchases, expensive dinners and more.
The City claims Edwards and/or Cook have breached funding agreements with the City since at least 2016.
Edwards added that she and Cook have explained the expenses to City officials on multiple occasions. She provided at least one example to Eagle Country 99.3.
"I have written permission from the Board of Directors to fill my gas tank," said Edwards. "Same goes for any city employee."
According to the complaint, DAC bank statements show $26,368.43 in unpaid balances from 2019.
Edwards explained, "We began using a card because I wanted no loans or to borrow on the building. We pay a couple thousand a month on it as an average. We also use it to purchase items and keep track of gas, etc."
Additionally, Edwards tells Eagle Country 99.3 that the DAC's bingo license lapsed while she was hospitalized, which allegedly set the DAC back another $20,000 - enough money to run the DAC for a month. Subsequently, Edwards says the DAC was hit with a $20,000 income short and a $120,000 short, which led them to use a credit card.
"We have $120,000 that comes to us in January yearly, said Edwards. "That is our catch up money that last council and mayor put in the budget and approved. The new council and mayor refused to release it to us. They are now letting us use vouchers to pay bills but it put us behind on everything."
The City's complaint also sheds light on DAC submissions for payment from the City in 2020 including delinquent utility bills, federals and state taxes, workforce development payments, fire and safety payments, Cintas bills, and office supply bills.
The City is seeking damages in an amount to be proven at trial.
Edwards says the DAC is open to an audit but wants it to come from an auditor recommended by the State Board of Accounts.
"Aaron and I have done nothing wrong," said Edwards. "I stand by that. We have no ill will towards the City."
LINK: Adult Center Complaint