Official facing criminal charges

A Jackson County commissioner who also is the assistant principal at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School was summoned Wednesday to appear in Jackson Circuit Court to face a felony charge of theft of a firearm.

Andrew B. Markel, 34, of Seymour, also faces a misdemeanor charge of conversion in connection with the investigation into his purchase of a Smith & Wesson Shield model 9mm handgun with a stolen gift card June 4, 2016, according to the probable cause affidavit signed by Detective Matt Loyd.

Markel has not been booked into the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown but faces an initial hearing on those charges in the coming days. The time and date for that hearing had not been set by Special Judge Chris D. Monroe on Friday afternoon.

The purchase occurred at Bite the Bullet, a gun shop in downtown Seymour where Markel worked part time, said Loyd, who is with the Indiana State Police.

Markel’s attorney, Mark Dove of North Vernon, said Friday that it is too early to comment about the facts of the case.

“He has done nothing criminal,” Dove said. “If the presiding judge finds probable cause, Drew looks forward to defending himself, and I look forward to defending him.”

The case that was filed Wednesday by Special Prosecutor William B. Nash. Nash, the Bartholomew County prosecutor, also could not be reached for comment.

Jackson County Prosecutor AmyMarie Travis said she asked for a special prosecutor to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Besides being a county commissioner, Markel’s father is Jackson Superior Court I Judge Bruce Markel III.

According to Loyd’s investigation, the Seymour Police Department began the investigation in June after the owner of the business reported that Markel had purchased a handgun with a gift card originally issued to a customer Dec. 26, 2015.

That customer had purchased the used handgun from the store but later decided to return it, according to court documents. The customer received a $255.73 refund, which was put on a gift card to be used for a future purchase, according to court records.

On Jan. 7, 2016, the customer came back to the store to look at other guns, and he and Markel got into a confrontation. At that point, Markel’s employer told him to refund the money on the customer’s card and “zero it out,” according to court documents.

The gun shop owners were able to determine that when Markel purchased the Shield handgun, he had used the customer’s gift card, Loyd said.

Markel later told the owners he thought he had used a $100 gift card he received from a relative for the purchase, according to court documents.

Loyd said on June 10 that Markel apologized for the incident and said he had made an honest mistake. He also included a $257 check.

Crothersville Community Schools Superintendent Terry Goodin could not be reached for comment about the case.

Dale Simmons, co-general counsel with the Indiana Election Division, said an elected official convicted of a felony is not eligible to hold public office according to Indiana Code 5-8-1-38. A person, however, can serve with a misdemeanor conviction, he said.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.