Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 6, 2013

Probation, restitution in Tipton theft case

Street commissioner to pay former employee more than $33,000.

By Martin Slagter Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — TIPTON — Tipton Street Commissioner Gary Harpe will pay friend and former employee Floyd Ogden more than $33,000 in restitution while serving three years of supervised probation after pleading guilty to three counts of theft on Wednesday in Tipton County Circuit Court.

Harpe pleaded guilty to three Class A misdemeanor counts of theft and will pay Ogden, who left him in charge of his finances, $33,245.16. Harpe will pay $5,000 within 10 days of his sentencing and continue paying $784.60 per month until the restitution is paid in full.

Ogden, 67, filed a theft report with the Tipton Police Department on April 15 stating Harpe had taken more than $29,000 from his bank account between 2009 and 2012. Harpe originally was charged in July with five Class D felony counts for the theft.

Ogden, who worked with Harpe for 20 years before retiring, said his mother used to handle his finances and when she got sick, Harpe offered to help.

Harpe was given power of attorney over Ogden’s accounts in 2008.

Special prosecutor Mark McCann said the desired outcome in the case was to make sure Ogden was repaid.

“Based upon the defendant’s lack of criminal history and that [Ogden] felt this was a fair resolution, I’m satisfied with the result,” McCann said. “In speaking with [Ogden], the main goal was to get him repaid and to make sure the defendant was convicted for the crime committed.”

Tipton County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lett said restitution was the most important element in reaching a plea agreement.

“The fact that [Harpe] agreed to repay all of the money and the victim and his representatives were asking that [the plea] be accepted were the main reasons it was accepted,” he said.

Tipton Mayor Don Havens, who was out of town during the sentencing, said he will wait to review the content of the plea agreement before making any decisions on Harpe’s future employment with the city.

“One of my primary concerns from the beginning of this case has been that Mr. Ogden be paid in full,” Havens said. “My office will review the court findings and determine what step will be made next.”

Ogden first learned that Harpe had taken money from his account in 2012 when Harpe confessed he had spent the money gambling.

“He came to my house and said, ‘Floyd, you’re going to be mad,’” Ogden told the Kokomo Tribune of first learning of the missing money in 2012. “He said he took some money from my account to play cards with.”

On April 30, 2012, Harpe signed a promissory note prepared by attorney David Quigley in which he promised to repay Ogden $29,746.

The promissory note stated Harpe was to begin making monthly payments of $355 starting on Oct. 11, 2012, and the entire amount was to be paid back by Dec. 31, 2016.

Harpe started making $355 per month payments to Ogden’s account in May.

Ogden’s cousin, George, was granted power of attorney on April 27, 2012.

The original theft counts covered withdrawals Harpe made from Ogden’s account between Nov. 3, 2011 and April 15, 2012, totaling $7,149.22.

In a statement attached to the charges, Detective Mike Tarrh with the Indiana State Police said Cynthia Harpe said she learned her estranged husband, Gary, had a gambling problem and was taking money from Ogden in 2008 or 2009.

Cynthia Harpe said she paid Ogden $100 per month for two years on the debt. She filed for divorce in 2012, which was finalized this year.

Harpe told Tarrh he took the money to pay off gambling debts and his problems started in 2006 or 2007 and worsened when the casino opened at Hoosier Park in Anderson.

Martin Slagter, city of Kokomo and Tipton County reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8570, martin.slagter@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @slagterm.