Former Housing Authority official charged with stealing nearly $ - News, Weather & Sports

Former Housing Authority official charged with stealing nearly $60K

Kathy Downes Kathy Downes
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull
Larry Wilder Larry Wilder

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - Accused of stealing nearly $60,000 from the Sellersburg Housing Authority, the former executive director is now in jail.

Kathy Downes was taken from the Clark County Courthouse in handcuffs Thursday afternoon. For four years, chief deputy prosecutor Jeremy Mull said Downes not only wrote checks to herself from the Housing Authority, but forged her co-workers signatures for a total of $57,768.81. She is charged with 32 counts of forgery, theft and official misconduct.

Downes was hired in 2007. Her job was to make payments to landlords of Section 8 housing in Sellersburg. While she did not miss any of their payments, Mull said she wrote at least 30 checks to herself with those taxpayer dollars as well. Between 2008 and 2012 the amounts ranged from $300 to more than $1,800.

"The taxpayers work awfully hard for what they make and what they pay and when somebody takes that I think it's very important the system recoup that and put that back where it belongs, so the taxpayers aren't out more money."

Downes activities drew attention when one of her sons got a notice from the IRS. It stated he did not pay taxes on his rental property from 2008 to 2011. Court documents state he did not own that property. It turns out his mother was using his name, his sister's name, as well as several others, along with her own, to take the money from the Housing Authority according to those documents. The reason, according to her attorney Larry Wilder, was so she could pay her bills.

"Part of this conduct occurred when she was married," said Wilder. "Financially there were problems there. She lost her son in 2011, within five days she lost her grandson. The ability to bury either one of those were things that caused financial difficulties."

While Downes pled not guilty in court, Wilder said she is taking responsibility and intends to pay all of the thousands of dollars back.

Downes is being held on $30,000 full cash bond. Wilder said she is unable to pay it.

If convicted, Mull said Downes could face anywhere from 20 years to eight years on each count in prison.

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