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Complaint made about conflict of interest

September 29, 2010

PLYMOUTH — The interpretation of the Indiana State codes concerning filing “conflict of interest” statements prompted the Marshall County Democrat-ic Party to not only issue a press release Monday, but also to file an official complaint with the Marshall County Prosecutor’s office.
In its press release, the Democrats assert that current Marshall County Councilwoman Judith Stone, failed to file “conflict of interest” statements concerning county projects and payments made to two companies (Custom Tower Sys-tems, Inc. and CTS Realty) in which Stone’s husband has a 50 percent interest.
Stone filed “conflict of interest” statements for 2007, 2009 and 2010 which did include Custom Tower Systems, Inc. and CTS Realty. However, the Marshall County Democrats believe that additional “conflict of interest” statements should have been filed that directly relate to a Pioneer Drive property sale, tower work at the jail, and the EPICS project.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Stone said, “I filed disclosures as instructed by the Marshall County Attorney James Clevenger.”
According to the press release, the county purchased 2.3 acres of property along Pioneer Drive from CTS Realty for $42,145 in April of 2009; paid $38,707 to Custom Tower Systems, Inc. for work completed at the Marshall County Jail from September to December of 2007; and also paid Custom Tower Systems, Inc. $10,692.41 for completed work for EPICS Tower project from April 2006 to January of 2010.
Marshall County Democratic Chair Larry Balmer confirmed that the press release was authorized by the Marshall County Democratic Party; however, the only names listed on the release were those of Michelle Livinghouse and Mary Jo Finley. Neither Livinghouse nor Finley signed the typed press release.
Marshall County Prosecutor David Holmes confirmed that a complaint had been filed with his office by Democrat Ryan Ripley. Ripley is challenging Stone for the District 4 Marshall County Council seat in the upcoming election.
Holmes said, “We get all kinds of complaints. But we don’t investigate. The police investigate.”
He said that the complaint has been forwarded to the Indiana State Policeadding, “It is standard procedure for handling complaints. It doesn’t lend any credence to it (complaint).”
Holmes also serves as the Marshall County Republican Party Chair. Holmes said the matter would likely be turned over to a special prosecutor if it required any further action.
Stone, was elected in 2006, and took office in 2007. Payments for the EPICS Tower Project contracted for in 2006 by the Marshall County Commissioners were paid over a period of four years due to funding restraints.
Finley and Balmer said they had a legal review of their complaint. Finley said they were told they were on solid ground. Livinghouse could not be reached for comment.

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