Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 14, 2013

Deputy county clerk faces charges

Michelle Ebert was arrested Wednesday

By Mike Fletcher
Tribune staff writer

— Investigators of the Kokomo Police Department Drug Task Force arrested a Howard County deputy clerk Wednesday alleging she tipped off a suspect in a drug investigation about an impending search warrant.

Maj. Brian Seldon said police arrested Michelle E. Ebert, 43, at 2:55 p.m. at her residence in the 1300 block of South Jay Street, on a warrant for a Class D felony charge of official misconduct and a Class A misdemeanor charge of assisting a criminal.

The warrant issued out of Howard Circuit Court alleges Ebert provided confidential information from an ongoing drug investigation to a suspect in the investigation, Seldon reported Thursday.

The Tribune did not release the name of the suspect since he has not been arrested or charged in connection with the case.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Ebert warned the man that a warrant was being issued March 12 for his residence and that he should, “get out.”

“Your about to get hit,” Ebert told the suspect in a text message, according to the affidavit.

Drug task force officers became suspicious of Ebert after receiving information that a suspect in a drug investigation had been tipped off. After checking with court officials, police learned only three people would have placed the warrant in the system with one of them being Ebert.

When interviewed, Ebert said she was friends with the suspect and didn’t want to see him get arrested.

Ebert has worked in the clerk’s office for three years and does civil and criminal work for Superior Court 2 as well as criminal work for Superior Court 1. She told investigators this is the only time she had violated a confidential rule of her employment and realized it was wrong to notify the man of the search warrant.

According to the investigation, Ebert did not input the warrant in the system, but had access to the information concerning the warrant.

Ebert was taken to the Howard County Criminal Justice Center and released after posting $5,000 bail.

An initial hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. today.

Howard County Clerk Kim Wilson said Ebert, who works in the clerk’s office on the second floor of the Courthouse, is suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case.

If convicted, she could receive up to three years in prison on the official misconduct and up to a year on the assisting a criminal charge.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call Sgt. Tonda Cockrell at 765-456-7204, or the Kokomo Police Hotline at 765-456-7017.