I-Team 8

County official charged with misconduct, conflict of interest after road work

SPENCER, Ind. (WISH) — A first-term Owen County commissioner is facing two felony charges and a misdemeanor charge, according to court documents obtained by I-Team 8.

The documents say the commissioner directed employees of the Owen County Highway Department to fix a road so he could remove broken equipment from his job site. He was charged with official misconduct, conflict of interest, and theft.

I-Team 8 went to the home of Commissioner Dale Dubois outside of Spencer to ask him about the allegations, and his wife said her husband had no interest in talking to the press or anyone about the allegations.

Indiana State Police is investigating, and a special prosecutor and judge have been assigned to the case. Dubois is free on bail and scheduled to make his first court appearance Nov. 12.

According to the court documents, Dubois owns an excavation company. He had been hired to build a pond for a client on Minor Road. There are six homes on that road.

During the construction of the pond, one of the bulldozers of Dubois’ company broke and required a special trailer to remove it from the property. Getting the vehicles out required widening two narrow corners on a rural, gravel road.

Dubois marshalled the Owen County Highway Department to widen the road, move a fence, and deliver three truckloads of gravel and reshape a ditch. He told county employees the work was required for the delivery of a modular home and a 40-foot shipping container that his client was putting on the property.  

Turns out the client has no plans to build anytime soon.

In court documents, Dubois was angry when first contacted by a state police investigator, and insisted on knowing the identity of the person who turned him in and to “smack the s— of them.”

During interviews with several county highway employees, Dubois had offered a number of stories on why the road needed to be widened, court documents say.

In total, the county spent about $1,000 in labor and material to widen the road. That spending may not seem like much, but Owen County has operated in the red for several years and money is very tight.

Court records say Dubois also asked the state police if he should pay for the materials, which the investigator answered was not for him to say.

Dubois went on to say if he was told to pay for the material or go to jail, he would go to jail, the court records say. 

Owen County has two other commissioners. One of them declined to comment to I-Team 8 about the case, and the another did not respond to a phone message.

Spencer is a town of about 2,200 people. It’s about 30 miles southwest of Indianapolis.