The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office threw out a criminal case regarding former Edinburgh Town Manager JT Doane, who was fired in October after the Edinburgh Town Council learned he was giving a town employee money.
While Doane may have acted unethically, he didn’t do anything illegal, the sheriff’s office determined.
Doane resigned from the town manager post Oct. 25, but the Edinburgh Town Council on Oct. 30 rejected his resignation and fired him instead.
Town officials discovered Doane had been paying an employee of the town’s electric department under the table since March, said Dustin Huddleston, the town’s attorney.
Doane was using his own money to pay the employee $480 a month in cash, Huddleston said. There was no evidence that Doane had used town funds to pay the employee, said James Bryant, a detective with the sheriff’s office.
It appears Doane was paying the employee the difference between a journeyman and non-journeyman electrician wage, Bryant said.
The employee was working toward journeyman certification but was not entitled to journeyman wages based on the town’s salary ordinance, Huddleston said. The ordinance says only those who have that certification may earn that wage, he said.
It is likely that Doane promised that wage, found out the town couldn’t pay it and chose to deliver on the promise out of his own pocket, Bryant said.
“For whatever reason, he made it (that promise) to him. That’s not for me to say. But for whatever reason, he used his own money,” he said.
Bryant did not speak to Doane during the investigation, so he does not know why Doane went to these measures to compensate the employee, he said.
Doane did not respond to a request for comment by press time Friday.
Doane fired the employee he was paying under the table on Oct. 1, before the town knew about under-the-table payments, Huddleston said.
The town’s investigation is still open as it awaits responses from the Indiana Department of Revenue and Internal Revenue Service on whether additional steps should be taken.
The town also reported the under-the-table payments to the Indiana State Board of Accounts, which did not seek further action because Doane used his own money and there was no evidence of theft from the town, Huddleston said.
The search for a new town manager is progressing, with interviews scheduled today. If all goes well, a new town manager could be named as early as next week, Huddleston said.
Council members will interview two candidates for the job in an executive session at 8:45 a.m. today.
Interviews are private, but selection of the new town manager will take place in a public meeting. The council’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Monday.
In the meantime, council member Ryan Piercefield is interim town manager.