Former city worker accused of stealing $20K from Indianapolis

Investigators informed Steve Couch that his permits were among 180 voided out of the system to conceal the stolen cash.
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INDIANAPOLIS - The City of Indianapolis has hired ex-felons, giving them a second chance to right their wrongs. But what if you discovered the clerk you're handing your cash to is currently wanted on outstanding warrants and the city doesn't have a clue? 13 investigates found just that, and uncovers a gap in the city's policy on background checks.

Arthur Johnson IV, 30, is a wanted man. The former city employee is accused of stealing more than $20,000 right under the city's nose. Johnson was a cashier at Code Enforcement, collecting fees from contractors for city permits.

"I always paid cash for my permits," said Steve Couch, contractor.

Investigators informed Couch that his permits were among 180 voided out of the system to conceal the stolen cash. Criminal charges are now pending.

Arthur Johnson's problems didn't just begin with his employment with the city. 13 Investigates has discovered he was already wanted before he took the job.

In April 2008, Arthur Johnson was arrested by IMPD for failing to appear in court on a reckless driving charge out of Lake County. The warrant was issued March 2, 2001.

The Lake County Sheriff's Department says that same warrant was reissued months after Johnson's arrest and is still active today. The city didn't have a clue when it hired Johnson in 2007.

"Sounds like somebody didn't do their job," said Couch.

Couch says even though it's an unrelated warrant, the city should have known.

"Sure, with a job like that. Yeah, somebody that's handling thousands of dollars a day, you know. It should have been investigated to see why and everything, and then after the investigation, make a decision," Couch said.

City of Indianapolis Deputy Director of Human Resources Nathan Maners tells 13 Investigates the third party vendor it hired to do background checks only uncovers criminal convictions. It doesn't detect warrants or police reports that could point to trouble.

13 Investigates asked Maners, "What is the city's reaction to learning that there are employees that have been hired while there are active warrants for that person's arrest?"

"We use one of the best vendors to capture criminal convictions," said Maners.

In Arthur Johnson's case, two local police reports link him to fraud investigations.

In January 2005, a manager at an east side Taco Bell named Johnson as a suspect, saying "noticed a refund in the amount of $499.00." The report went on to say that the business does not do refunds and certainly not for that amount. Johnson, the suspect, was using the register at the time. She says Johnson was scheduled to work the next day but "did not call or show up."

In a police report from July 2000, a gas station manager says, "when he would run the card, the suspect (Johnson) would use the complainants credit card number to order merchandise."

Johnson was not criminally charged in either incident.

"Do you not think extra information could have made a better hiring fit, in terms of what the job responsibilities would be?" 13 Investigates asked.

"I'm not really privy to the case, so it's kind of hard for me to discuss," said Maners.

The city says it doesn't have the resources to pay Indiana State Police to dig deeper into statewide reports, so for now, nationwide convictions will suffice. The city also says employees are required to report arrests after they are hired. It doesn't appear Johnson disclosed his arrest in 2008 by IMPD.

Johnson now has two warrants out for his arrest, the most recent from the city accusing him of stealing $20,000 from code enforcement.