Ex-trustee convicted in erasable ink scheme

/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal jury took less than three hours to convict a former township trustee of using erasable ink to embezzle more than $300,000 over five years.

Michael Orsburn, trustee for Keener Township in Jasper County for six years, was found guilty of embezzlement.

His wife and deputy trustee, Teresa Orsburn, would write checks to herself or her husband from township accounts using erasable ink, prosecutors said. When the canceled checks were returned from the bank, she would alter them to appear that they were written to a legitimate township vendor.

Teresa Orsburn pleaded guilty last week to writing 15 checks totaling about $62,000.

Michael Orsburn told jurors during his three-day trial that ended Wednesday that he had no idea his wife had concocted the scheme.

Prosecutors said the Orsburns wrote a total of 117 checks to steal $308,000 from the township.

"At a time when the citizens of Keener Township were struggling to find money to hire paramedics for their citizens, this guy was going to motorcycle races every weekend in a motor home," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernard Van Wormer said. "It's just not right."

Teresa Orsburn said she managed all the financial records for both the township and the Orsburn home.

$170,000 in extra income one year
Van Wormer said the jury in Michael Orsburn's case did not believe that he wouldn't notice $170,000 in extra income in 2004. His salary that year was about $60,000.

Michael Orsburn was the elected trustee in the township 30 miles southeast of Gary from January 1999 until his resignation on March 31, 2005, after the fraud scheme had been discovered by other trustees who examined bank records, federal prosecutors said.

The Orsburns were scheduled to be sentenced in April.