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ISP investigates after-hours entry into courthouse

Indiana State Police are investigating Harrison County deputy prosecutor Shawn Donahue after he entered the Harrison County Court House after hours twice on Nov. 1. A complaint filed by Harrison County Republican Central Committee Chairman Larry Shickles led to the investigation.
Donahue said he was contacted by Indiana State Police Sgt. Sam Sarkisian last Monday evening and cooperated fully. Sarkisian could not be reached for comment.
According to a courthouse surveillance video, Donahue, 28, unlocked the courthouse at 7:11 p.m. He entered the courthouse alone and was seen carrying what looked like papers.
A second video shows Donahue entering the treasurer’s office at 7:12 p.m. and going through a second door, where copying equipment and a folding machine is kept.
Donahue left the treasurer’s office at 7:15 p.m. He was then shown on tape leaving the building at 7:16 p.m.
Surveillance tapes show Donahue entering the courthouse a second time at 7:38 p.m. A minute later, he entered the treasurer’s office again and left the courthouse at 7:41 p.m.
Donahue said he entered the courthouse and went straight to the treasurer’s office. He said he used the letter folder and did not use any other equipment. He said he came back about 30 minutes later to fold more letters.
‘At no time did I use any other equipment or go near any other office,’ Donahue said in a statement, yesterday.
Donahue said he was given a key to the courthouse and the treasurer’s office by a fellow county employee but declined to say who that was.
County building maintenance supervisor David Simon said he keeps record of the individuals who are issued a key to the courthouse. He said according to his records Donahue had never been issued a key.
Shickles filed a complaint with Indiana State Police on Saturday after viewing courthouse surveillance tapes last Friday.
‘It is our request that the Indiana State Police conduct an investigation of the complaint and to verify that county property was not improperly used for political purposes or personal gain,’ Shickles said in his complaint.
He also wanted the state police to investigate and verify that the integrity of the equipment, documents and ballots related to yesterday’s election were not compromised.
‘I don’t think he did anything other than make some copies and fold some materials, Shickles said. He said he didn’t believe it was ethical if Donahue used county equipment to fold or copy election materials.
However, Shickles said he feared the incident could be used as grounds for a contest or challenge to the election results. He said the Republican Party had notified the state election commission and the Indiana State Police so the incident could be investigated before the elections.
‘I just want to be able to go home Tuesday night and know the results,’ Shickles said.
Harrison County Clerk Sherry Brown said there was no indication that any of the election material had been tampered with.
Brown said someone would have to enter through the clerk’s door to access election materials.
‘It would have to be very visible for someone to break into the election documents,’ she said.
Brown said her office was locked when she entered it on the morning of Nov. 2, and the cabinets containing election materials were locked with two padlocks. Brown said those were still locked when she entered that morning.
Brown said she feels the integrity of the election materials was not compromised when Donahue entered the building during the evening of Nov. 1.
Courthouse surveillance tapes did not give any indication that Donahue entered any office other than the treasurer’s office.
Barbara Black, Harrison County’s Democratic Central Committee acting chairwoman, said she believes the incident is a lot of nothing. Black said she has always known Donahue to be honest and does not believe he would do anything illegal.
‘I just think this is a lot of pre-election bunk,’ Black said.

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