Legal News Line Dec. 31, 2012, 9:29pm

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office filed a lawsuit Friday against a former clerk-treasurer in the town of Chandler who allegedly misappropriated funds.

Timothy D. Osha allegedly misappropriated the funds by purchasing home electronics, vehicle batteries and computer equipment using the town's credit card. Zoeller's lawsuit seeks the recovery of $143,010.36 in public funds, fees and penalties for the town's government, in addition to treble damages, costs and attorney fees.

Osha resigned from the position in October and was criminally charged by prosecutors with fraud and theft earlier in December.

"It is an affront to public trust when an elected official whose duties included managing public funds is accused of misusing those funds," Zoeller said. "Misappropriation in public offices for personal gain will not be tolerated and we will use the legal means at our disposal to obtain repayment from this defendant so the town treasury can be reimbursed."

A State Board of Accounts audit report on December 10 found that Osha must reimburse $23,633.51 to the state for unauthorized purchases, $310.34 for a carpet cleaner and $79,266.69 in late fees, penalties and interest caused by failing to file tax withholdings and unemployment insurance payments. The audit of the incomplete records incurred $39,799.82 in costs, for which Zoeller's office also seeks repayment from Osha.

Zoeller's office filed a motion on Friday for a temporary restraining order against Osha to freeze his assets. Warrick County Circuit Court Judge David Kelley granted the temporary restraining order and scheduled a hearing for January 7. If a preliminary injunction is granted against Osha at the hearing, it would prevent him from transferring, selling or concealing property until the lawsuit is resolved to preserve assets that could later be recovered for reimbursement.

The lawsuit requests that the court enter a civil judgment against Osha so that Zoeller's office can enter a monetary judgment against Osha through collections.

The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Western Surety Company and the Indianapolis-based Auto-Owners Insurance Company were named as defendants in the lawsuit. The companies at different times wrote different surety bonds on Osha for $15,000 or $30,000 of coverage. The state seeks to redeem the surety bonds to partially reimburse Chandler for the amount owned and any portion not covered by the bonds would be Osha's personal responsibility.

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