U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Josh Minkler announced the indictment of two individuals Tuesday.
Debra Nicole Grigsby, district administrator for the Muncie Sanitary District, and Tony Franklin, owner of Franklin Building, and Design, LLC, have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, making false statements, and falsification of documents in a federal investigation, Minkler announced in a press release by the Department of Justice.
Grigsby, 44, from Muncie and Franklin, 60, Yorktown, Indiana, were arrested Tuesday morning without incident and will have their initial appearance this afternoon at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis, the press release states.
The arrests are part of a multi-year and on-going investigation by the FBI and the IRS, into the payment of kickbacks in exchange for public works projects and other corruption-related matters in Muncie, it states.
According to an Associated Press brief, on Tuesday, FBI agents searched municipal offices in Muncie at locations including City Hall and the Muncie Sanitary District offices as part of the investigation
“Public servants need to serve the public instead of serving themselves,” Minkler said in the press release. “When someone betrays the public’s trust by stealing tax dollars for personal enrichment, my office will identify, investigate and, if the evidence supports a charge, prosecute the individual who violates that sacred trust.”
Grigsby has served in her role at Muncie Sanitary District since 2013, and was responsible for approving the selection of contractors to perform work on Muncie Sanitary District infrastructure projects, the press release states.
The indictment alleges that Grigsby abused her position of public trust and agreed to steer contracts for work arising out of infrastructure projects for the Muncie Sanitary District to Franklin, the owner of Franklin Building and Design, LLC, in exchange for kickbacks, it states.
“The indictment and arrest of these two individuals is one more step in an ongoing investigation to identify any and all public officials or private citizens who have committed federal crimes and victimized the tax paying citizens of Muncie, Indiana,” said Grant Mendenhall, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division, in the press release. “Investigating public officials who exploit their official position for personal gain and erode the public’s confidence in government is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities and is the sole purpose of the Indiana Public Corruption Task Force.”
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany J. Preston who is prosecuting this case for the government, Grigsby and Franklin face up to 20 years’ imprisonment if convicted of all charges, the press release states.
An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt, and all parties are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in federal court, it states.