LAPORTE, Ind. (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller took legal action Friday to freeze the assets of a former LaPorte County deputy auditor who allegedly embezzled approximately $150,000 in county funds.

Zoeller's office used the state's new public accountability law to seek and obtain a temporary restraining order to freeze the financial assets of Mary Ray until a full audit can be completed. Between May 2012 and December, Ray allegedly shorted the county approximately $150,000 through check kiting in the final months before her retirement.

"It is always disheartening when a government employee is accused of violating the public trust by pocketing taxpayers' money that does not belong to them," Zoeller said. "The public accountability law allows the state to identify fraud on public funds earlier in the process and freeze defendants' assets in the event we must recover them later to reimburse the public treasury."

The temporary restraining order froze Ray's assets, including four vehicles, a home and multiple bank accounts.

The State Board of Accounts seeks $150,000 in restitution from Ray, though the amount is subject to change pending the release of a final audit report. The final audit will determine if there was any surety bond coverage on Ray that the state could obtain to reimburse the county treasury for a shortage. Any amount not covered by bonds would be the personal responsibility of Ray to repay.

Zoeller's jurisdiction is civil alone and any criminal charges would fall under the jurisdiction of the county prosecutor or U.S. attorney and police agencies.

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