MONTICELLO – No criminal charges will be filed against current White County Clerk Laura Cosgray.
That’s the determination of a special prosecutor who began to investigate Cosgray almost a year ago for activities allegedly committed in early 2018 when she was an employee of the office.
“I have met with the Indiana State Police investigator who was assigned to the case and have reviewed the evidence compiled during his investigation,” Daniel Sigler, the special prosecutor appointed last September and sworn in a month before last November’s general election, wrote in a report to the White County Superior Court. “I have determined evidence is not present to establish probable cause and the prosecution of the case.”
No one has revealed or indicated the nature for which Cosgray was being investigated. Attempts to reach Sigler via phone and email were unsuccessful.
“I am very happy about it. It was not a surprise to me because I knew all along that I didn’t do anything wrong,” Cosgray said. “It was just a spin-off from my political firing in February (2018).”
On Feb. 2, 2018 Cosgray, then a deputy clerk, was terminated by former White County Clerk Paula Lantz — about a month after Cosgray announced her candidacy, for which she also filed the proper paperwork, for the county clerk’s position.
In April 2018, the White County Commissioners reviewed Cosgray’s termination and said she was dismissed after a verbal exchange with Lantz, leading Lantz to believe Cosgray was insubordinate and refusing to perform her duties. The commissioners concluded Cosgray’s dismissal was “in accordance to the law” since she was an at-will employee of the clerk.
In July 2018, Cosgray and her attorney, James Ammeen of Indianapolis, filed a tort claim notice with White County Attorney George Loy, in which was stated Cosgray was “wrongfully terminated” on Feb. 2, 2018, by Lantz and the termination was “politically motivated and retaliatory.”
“We’re glad to see the investigation yielded what we knew to be the truth the whole time, which was that there wasn’t any criminal conduct engaged in by Laura,” Ammeen said. “The closing of the special prosecutor’s file should bring an end to this once and for all.”
In August 2018, Commissioner David Diener told the Herald Journal that commissioners began collecting information for a legal response. Items collected included computer equipment at her former workstation.
“Those are public computers. Anyone could have used those,” Ammeen said.
In the order appointing the special prosecutor, a copy of which was obtained by the Herald Journal, it states, “in preparation for a potential lawsuit, the White County Commissioners discovered information that a crime(s) may have been committed by Laura A. Cosgray during the course of her employment with White County.”
It also states “On September 24, 2018, the Attorney for White County (Loy) turned documents over to (Prosecutor Robert Guy’s) office which possibly constitute evidence of a criminal act.”
Guy recused himself from the investigation to “avoid any appearance of impropriety.”
Cosgray said the investigation has taken a toll on her family.
“It’s been very hard to be telling the truth and for people to still question that truth,” she said. “It’s been very hard when you know that you are innocent, you know you’re telling the truth … it’s so frustrating to get other people to believe the truth. But you just go on, you keep your head up high and you know in your heart you didn’t do anything wrong. I have to answer to the Lord in my life — every day. That’s how I was able to get through it, and with the support of the people.”
Cosgray won both the primary and general elections to become White County clerk.
“I don’t know exactly what to think of it. I don’t know who or what started the criminal investigation, but it was definitely something that should never happen to anyone ever again,” she said.
Cosgray called the investigation a “wrong” and “un-American.”
“People were so supportive in this county and they said it was nothing more than a political witch hunt,” she said. “Evidentally, they saw that and I’m sitting here as the county clerk. They not only gave me justice (last) Nov. 3, but they also gave me a promotion and a pay raise — and for that I will be forever grateful.”
Neither the White County Commissioners, Guy or Loy could be reached for comment by press time Tuesday.