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Southern Indiana county sues former auditor, seeking $1.2M

SPENCER, Ind. (AP) – A former county auditor who’s the subject of an ongoing investigation into missing public funds now faces a lawsuit seeking nearly $1.2 million from her for alleged “acts of malfeasance.”

Owen County attorney Richard Lorenz recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the county’s commissioners that names former county auditor Angie Lawson and her husband, Larry Lawson.

The suit seeks the recovery of $1.18 million in public funds, or three times the roughly $400,000 found missing so far from the rural southern Indiana county’s coffers by an ongoing State Board of Accounts audit.

Indiana law allows for triple damages in civil cases involving misuse of public funds.

The Lawsons have not been charged, but Indianapolis attorney Andrew Maternowski, who’s representing the couple, said his clients are awaiting word on how the FBI will proceed with charges that likely would be filed in federal court.

“In the meantime, we are trying to address the civil case, and we did that by agreeing to hold off on any disbursement of her pension and to not sell any property,” he told The Herald-Times.

Court documents show that during a Jan. 13 hearing before Monroe County Judge Francie Hill, the Lawsons agreed to comply with the terms of a temporary injunction and promised not to sell any of the assets listed in the county’s suit.

The suit states that Angie Lawson used county-issued credit cards to purchase liquor, lingerie, toys, diamond jewelry, televisions and numerous other items at a local Wal-Mart store. Lawson often spent more than $2,000 in a single shopping spree, sometimes accompanied by her husband, according to the suit.

It argues that those purchases “had no discernible county purpose.”

Angie Lawson was the elected county auditor from January 2005 through December 2012. She then served as chief deputy auditor from January 2013 until she was fired last August.

Lawson also was a county council member and treasurer of the county’s Republican Party before being forced out when the state audit and Wal-Mart security camera videos emerged that showed her making the purchases.