INDIANAPOLIS — Federal agents arrested Center Township's former chief financial officer on Tuesday on charges alleging he spent nearly $344,000 in money meant for Indianapolis' poor to buy his home, a pickup truck and jewelry.
Alan Mizen was taken into custody at his Zionsville home and was released without bond after making an initial appearance in federal court in Indianapolis, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Blackington, the lead prosecutor on the case. He is charged with embezzling federal program funds and could face up to 10 years in prison.
Reached by phone hours after Mizen's arrest, a woman who said she was his wife, said she hadn't spoken to her husband since he was hauled away and that he had left his cellphone at home. She did not give her name and declined to discuss the allegations against him.
According to the criminal complaint, Mizen wrote a check from the Center Township bank account on June 10, 2010, for $343,541.08 and deposited it in a personal PNC Bank account. He then transferred the money to other accounts that he drew from until July 2012.
He spent $200,000 on his home and roughly $19,000 for the truck, prosecutors allege. He also used the money to pay for his son's college education and personal vacations, including a trip to the Cayman Islands in August of 2010, where $8,900 was spent on the jewelry, according to the complaint.
Agents seized Mizen's truck, and a diamond ring and necklace on Tuesday and placed a "lis pendens" on his home alerting potential buyers that it is the subject of a continuing lawsuit.
Flanked by officials from the FBI, IRS, and the Indiana State Board of Accounts, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said the charges were the result of work by a state and federal task force investigating public corruption.
"All of these of course were taxpayer funds that were used to finance his own personal expenditures," Hogsett said. "I say this is a sad day for the residents and taxpayers of Center Township, because as most of you know, township funds are largely used for emergency assistance and service to residents of Center Township."
It was a State Board of Accounts audit that first uncovered the suspicious check Mizen wrote in June 2010. Mizen stopped working as the township's financial officer in January 2011 after a separate audit found he had claimed roughly $170,000 in overtime and comp time, despite working as a salaried employee.
"It's to me a betrayal of the public trust and erodes public confidence, and undermines the structure of the government that we have here in Indiana. And if left unchecked, it threatens the way that government and our way of life here in Indiana," said State Examiner Paul Joyce, who heads the State Board of Accounts.
Indiana's townships, a subset of each county and different from the state's towns and cities, serve only a few functions, chiefly providing emergency assistance to the poor. State leaders have tried before to eliminate township government, calling it redundant and outdated, but have been unsuccessful.