Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 9, 2014

County officials charged with theft

Darrell Reed and Diane Donnell used county funds for personal use.

By Mike Fletcher
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Two Howard County officials were fired and are facing felony charges after being accused of using county funds to buy tools and personal items.

Darrell S. Reed, 52, county maintenance supervisor, and his secretary, Diane L. Donnell, 60, turned themselves in to the Howard County Sheriff Department Wednesday after arrest warrants alleging official misconduct and theft were issued.

A probable cause affidavit accused Reed and Donnell of carrying out the theft over the past several years.

Reed is accused of buying several household items, including duct tape, tools, a generator, a rototiller and drywall material, with county funds.

When questioned, he admitted to the purchases and said he knew he was stealing.

“Yeah, I guess, I, you know, I guess I didn’t look at it that way, but yeah, you know, I guess,” the affidavit quoted him as saying.

Donnell is accused of purchasing a Carhartt sandstone men’s jacket and painting products using a Howard County credit card, according to the charging information.

When questioned about the purchases, Reed said Donnell bought the jacket from Rural King. Donnell also is accused of buying painting products from Menards and charging the purchase to the county’s account.

Donnell told investigators she bought the paint for a house she owns on South Purdum Street and admitted to charging the purchases on the county’s account. She added, “I guess I thought I could.”

She also admitted to buying a chainsaw “a couple of years ago” and buying gallons of oil and oil filters to change the oil in her personal vehicles using county funds.

In addition, Donnell said Reed knew of the purchases and never told her to stop.

The illegal purchases were brought to the attention of the sheriff department by the auditor’s office, the probable cause stated.

Warrants were issued Wednesday out of Howard Superior Court 2. Reed faces three counts of theft and official misconduct, all Class D felonies, while Donnell faces two counts of each.

Both were released after posting $1,000, 10 percent, of their $10,000 bond. If convicted, they could face up to three years on each D felony.

“It’s an unfortunate and unexpected situation,” said Tyler Moore, president of the Howard County Commissioners of the arrest.

Moore said commissioners elected not to reappoint Reed as supervisor and Donnell was released from her duties due to the investigation. The decisions were made during the commissioners’ weekly meeting Tuesday.

Sheriff Steve Rodgers said the investigation is ongoing. The total cost of the items the two charged to the county was not included in the court documents.

Mike Fletcher, crime and courts reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8565, or mike.fletcher@kokomotribune.com.