Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 28, 2014

Sheriff wants deputies fired over handling $250K


Kokomo Tribune

---- — DANVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana sheriff is seeking to fire two deputies over what he calls the improper handling of $250,000 in cash from a friend.

The Hendricks County sheriff's merit board heard testimony Wednesday on the allegations against Deputies Jason Woods and Teresa Woods, who are married.

Sheriff Dave Galloway told the board that Jason Woods took the money from the friend and kept it in a safe at the couple's home for about a month. The friend claims he never got the money back from Woods, despite a supposed hand-off to a third person using code words outside a McDonald's in Indianapolis.

Galloway suspended the deputies without pay on March 12 because of the allegations. Jason Woods, 41, is a 15-year veteran of the department and Teresa Woods, 34, has been a deputy for three years in the county just west of Indianapolis.

Galloway said the deputies should have questioned the source of so much cash and whether the friend was breaking any state or federal laws.

"It just astounds me that anyone would do that," Galloway said of Jason Woods. "As a police officer, if someone hands me $250,000 to hold, I'm going to have questions about it. I don't care if it's my brother giving it to me."

John Kautzman, an attorney representing the couple, objected to the merit board hearing, saying Jason Woods had submitted his retirement on Tuesday and Teresa Woods isn't able to testify because they are under criminal investigation.

"They have a Fifth Amendment right not to testify to the board," Kautzman told reporters. "That's why we asked the board to delay these proceedings until we can have a better sense of what's going on with that investigation. The board decided not to grant that motion.

"So if there's not going to be a delay, there's not much of a defense we can put on if they're not able to testify."

The merit board is scheduled to take up the case again during a public hearing May 13. No criminal charges have been filed.

Galloway said both Jason and Teresa Woods admitted under questioning to holding on to the money, but they claimed that they didn't know the amount or its source. Officials haven't released details about the suspected origin of the cash.

The couple said the friend who gave them the cash was an eccentric businessman who doesn't believe in banks, Galloway said.

"The actions of these two deputies do not reflect the way our department operates," Galloway said. "They do not deserve to be law enforcement officers in any capacity."