Two charged over false State Fair claims
Two women are being charged after the Marion County prosecutor said they filed false claims related to the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.
Prosecutor Terry Curry says Stephanie Murry and Sandra Hurn submitted claims to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund (ISFRF) and the Indiana Tort Claim Fund, which is administered by the Indiana Attorney General's Office. Authorities say the women each submitted claims totaling $22,500.
According to the prosecutor, the women claimed they were injured in the Aug. 13 stage collapse. The prosecutor's office alleges that the women falsified hospital records in order to be eligible to make claims to both funds.
"The state police determined pretty that the medical records submitted were falsified," said Curry.
In fact, Curry said, neither Hurn nor Murry even attended the concert.
"It would certainly appear from the investigation that neither woman was actually at the State Fair," Curry told Eyewitness News. "Sandra Hurn stated who she went with and that she was there for a couple of the Sugarland songs which obviously Sugarland never performed that night."
The scaffolding on the stage collapsed when a strong thunderstorm moved through that night. That happened after Sara Bareilles left the stage but before Sugarland came on.
Curry says Hurn collected $7,500 from the ISFRF, but Murry's claim was denied because her alleged injuries did not meet qualifications to receive ISFRF funds.
Both women also submitted a notice of tort claim to the Indiana attorney general's office, and both were notified they would receive money from the fund. But Hurn was arrested when she went to pick up a claim check, and Murry was arrested a short time after that.
"It's beyond troubling in a situation which was clearly a tragedy, people were legitimately injured even killed, that there are people out there that in turn exploit it for their own gain," said Curry.
The alleged false claims are especially disheartening for the people who were there that night and did suffer injuries.
"I can't believe that someone could stoop that low to do that. I'm appalled. I'm actually very angry," said Laura Magdziarz, who suffered a broken leg that night. Her young daughter Maggie had a critical arm injury. "That's just unbelievable. There are people out there that desperately needed the money and there's a lot of people that didn't get any money for the same reasons - they had people at different hospitals; they needed to find their family and that was more important than staying in the hospital."
That was the situation for Magdziarz, whose own claim was denied because she was not admitted to the hospital that night despite having broken her leg as the scaffolding came down that night. Magdziarz' first priority was to be by the bedside of her four-year-old daughter, who was undergoing surgery at a different hospital.
"Somebody either has to be really desperate or cold-hearted. That's like adding insult to injury," Magdziarz said. "I'm glad they caught them. I hope they throw the book at them."
Stephanie Murry has been charged with one count of forgery (class C felony), one count of perjury (class D felony), and one count of attempt theft (class D felony).
Sandra Hurn has been charged with three counts of forgery (class C felony), two counts of perjury (class D felony), one count of theft (class D felony), and one count of attempt theft (class D felony).
The maximum penalty both women could face for a class C felony is eight years in prison and a $10,000 fine.