News and Tribune

September 25, 2013

Prosecutor to investigate Adams’ actions

Steve Stewart says he can’t reach conclusion based ‘merely on a news article’

By MATT KOESTERS
matt.koesters@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart says that his office will conduct an investigation to determine what charges, if any, will be filed against Chuck Adams, a major with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department who recently suspended his campaign for sheriff in 2014.

Adams suspended his campaign Friday in response to the News and Tribune asking Adams about allegations leveled against him by Larry Brooks, a donor to his campaign. Brooks alleges that Adams offered him a no-show, $70,000-per-year job at the sheriff’s department in exchange for larger campaign contributions.

Adams failed to file paperwork with the Board of Elections declaring his candidacy within the 10-day filing deadline, despite receiving more than $13,000 in in-kind contributions from Brooks more than two years ago.

“To the best of my knowledge, there’s been no complaint filed with a law enforcement agency and there’s been no investigation by a law enforcement agency relating to these allegations,” Stewart said. “So it is incumbent upon this office to make an effort to determine what the facts are and to then, and only then, reach a decision as to whether or not criminal charges are appropriate against anyone.”

Stewart declined to estimate how long it will take for his office to make a decision on whether or not to file charges against Adams, if at all. But Stewart said the decision will “be made with dispatch.”

“Until witnesses are talked to, I can’t even give you an estimate,” Stewart said. “Whether it’s a couple of weeks or whether it’s a couple of months, I don’t know. It’ll be treated just like any other fact-finding process.

“The facts speak for themselves and will determine how long it takes to get this stuff together, but I’m hoping, as I said, to make any decision with dispatch. It should not take very long.”

Title 3 of Indiana Code governs campaign finances. Per Title 3, a statement of organization form, or CFA-1, must be filed within 10 days when a candidate spends or receives contributions greater than $100. A candidate who fails to do so faces a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, a candidate who fails to file a report with the proper office commits a class B misdemeanor.

Adams still hadn’t filed his CFA-1 form as of Wednesday, according to a voter registration employee.  

Stewart said he “wouldn’t want to speculate” on what charges Adams will face.

“Like everyone else, I read the news article from [Saturday], and like everyone else I was disappointed and disgusted at the allegations contained in the article,” Stewart said. “But at this point, I can’t reach any prosecutorial conclusions or speculate based merely on a news article.”

Adams issued a written statement to the News and Tribune on Friday in response to Brooks’ allegations, accepting responsibility for failure to follow Indiana campaign finance rules, but stating that while he did have conversations with Brooks about the possibility of employment in an Adams-run sheriff’s department, he never offered Brooks ghost employment.

“I am not a politician,” Adams wrote. “I am a career police officer with more than 30 years’ experience in law enforcement. I admit I made mistakes. I regret my mistakes, and am sorry.”

In addition to his responses to Brooks’ claims and his apology, Adams announced via the statement that he is suspending his campaign.

“I want to thank my family, friends, and co-workers for their support of me and my candidacy,”  Adams wrote.