Hendricks County deputies in trouble over missing $250,000
Two suspended Hendricks County deputies were no-shows at a merit board hearing Wednesday, where Sheriff Dave Galloway announced allegations against the couple. Galloway says the pair violated department rules after learning from their story about missing money.
The couple reportedly admitted to keeping a large amount of money for a friend at their home. Deputies Jason and Teresa Woods live in a brand new home in Brownsburg, where they included a built-in safe for valuables. The sheriff says a private investigator told him that friend hired him to locate his missing $250,000.
The private investigator told merit board members he interviewed Jason Woods, but says the deputy did not disclose his occupation.
Woods reportedly told the private investigator he was a photographer who was supposed to deliver an unknown amount of money from his home safe to a man during a rendezvous at a McDonald's restaurant. They both reportedly had secret passwords to share with each other to confirm the exchange.
Deputy Woods was to deliver the money by saying, "Oysters with pearls are in the river" and receiving the response, "When monkeys fly." The deputy reportedly says that's just what happened, so he no longer has the money. Deputy Woods allegedly took a photo of the person's car, an unoccupied Black Chrysler, and showed that photo to the private investigator. The money was in two large plastic bags, according to merit board testimony.
The man who was suppose to receive $250,000 from Woods told the private investigator that he went to the McDonald's, but no one ever showed up. The private investigator told merit board members he noticed the Black Chrysler he was driving was not the same Black Chrysler shown to him by Woods.
Sheriff Galloway also interviewed Deputy Teresa Woods about the so-called missing money.
"She knew about keeping a large amount of money for a friend in their safe," said Galloway, "and although she claims she did not know the amount, she failed to question where the money came from, saying their friend is just not fond of banks and asked them to keep it."
Deputy Jason Woods submitted his retirement to avoid termination, and his wife Teresa requested continuance at the hearing. Woods' attorney wants the deputy's retirement honored so it would supercede the sheriff's recommendation for termination.
"They have a 5th Amendment right not to testify before the board and that is why we asked the board to delay these proceedings until we can have a better sense of what is going on in that investigation," said John Kautzmann, defense attorney.
Galloway wants to fire the deputies, saying they not only failed to report the missing money, but never questioned where the money came from.
"As police officers, you have to question stuff, things like that. I mean, the public has high expectations of us," Galloway said. "I wouldn't take $250,000 from my brother to hold for any length of time. I would question where he got that money. But that's me. It should be all police officers raising red flags."
Galloway has already ordered the pair to turn in their squad cars and all other department-issued gear. Indiana State Police confirmed to Eyewitness News that Galloway contacted them to launch an independent investigation. Eyewitness News has learned the probe includes investigators from the Indiana Homeland Security Office.
After hearing the sheriff's testimony Wednesday, the merit board voted to make a final decision on Jason and Teresa Woods at another hearing May 13.
Last week, Eyewitness News confirmed the deputies are also the targets of a criminal investigation. A source tells Eyewitness News the couple is the target of a State Police and Homeland Security Investigation having financial ties to a large-scale "spice" operation.
Deputy Jason Woods has put in about 14 years with the department. He started his career working inside the jail. Sources say after several tries, his wife Teresa finally passed hiring tests about eight years ago. Both are suspended without pay.