|Fri, Sep 19, 2014 11:53 AM
|Issue of September 17, 2014
February 26, 2014 | 09:06 AM
A case of alleged welfare fraud against a former Harrison County deputy prosecutor has been dismissed by a special prosecutor and signed by a special judge.
According to court documents, Shawn Donahue was charged with Class C felony welfare fraud and Class D felony theft in February of last year.
On Jan. 1, 2011, after being fired from his position under former prosecutor Dennis Byrd after current prosecutor J. Otto Schalk took office, Donahue began applying for and receiving unemployment benefits through the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and continued to do so until August of that year.
In a document signed by Special Judge Curtis Eskew, the case was dismissed by special prosecutor Barry Brown of Monroe County after Donahue paid $7,478.25, which represented a civil penalty and fine, as well as a 25-percent penalty.
"The State has reviewed the factual scenario and, while there appears to be substance to the allegations, on balance the State does not believe that the totality of circumstances rise to the level of criminal conviction for which the defendant would be subject to potential disciplinary action by the Indiana Disciplinary Commission and Indiana Supreme Court and, further, would also be exposed to potential criminal penalties," the dismissal document reads. "The defendant's conduct is mitigated by his willingness to reimburse the Workforce Development Agency."
Further, the document said that predicting the ultimate outcome of a jury trial is "an elusive and unscientific exercise."
Brown determined that there "exists sufficient infirmity in the quality of the available evidence to persuade the State to withdraw" the prosecution and request a dismissal of the case without prejudice, the document said.
"This decision does not in any way reflect on the professional, skilled and diligent crafting of this prosecution by the elected prosecutor and his deputies before the appointment of the undersigned," the document, which was signed by Brown, reads.
On Jan. 1, 2011, the Harrison County Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals entered into a contractual agreement with Donahue for part-time legal services that would continue until Dec. 31, 2011. Terms of the contract were that Donahue would be paid $8,000, in 12 equal monthly payments, for the calendar year of the contract.
Court documents alleged Donahue did not report these earnings to the Workforce Development Agency when applying for and/or receiving unemployment benefits as required.
Court records went on to say that records obtained through the Harrison County Economic Development Corp. indicated that Donahue had billed/invoiced them for legal work, where he claimed to have completed 3.75 hours of services on March 7, 2011, at $125 hourly, totaling $468.75 that he allegedly did not report as income.
In addition, Donahue allegedly entered into a contract with the Town of Palmyra for part-time legal services for $1,400 in 12 equal payments. Based on this contract, each monthly payment would be approximately $116.
Court documents said Donahue reported only a partial amount of these earnings. Records obtained from the Town of Palmyra indicate that Donahue had billed/invoiced for legal work in which he claimed to have earned a total of $968.75 during eight different occasions between May 20 and Aug. 2 of 2011. The amounts from Palmyra were not reported to the Workforce Development Agency, according to court documents.
In all, Donahue allegedly profited a minimum of $5,000 of Harrison County tax dollars as a result of not reporting income to Workforce Development.