MUNCIE, Ind. (WTHR) — Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler has been charged with theft of government funds. As a result, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
An FBI spokesperson tells us Eyewitness News an arrest warrant was issued Monday morning at Tyler's home.
Late Monday afternoon during a news conference, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler laid out the charges against Tyler, saying they've spent four years on this case.
He faces one count of theft of government funds.
According to court documents, Tyler pocketed a $5,000 payoff in exchange for awarding city contracts to a vendor who has since been indicted. Minkler indicated that their investigation is ongoing and that Tyler is the seventh person indicted in “Operation Public Trust”.
The FBI investigation into Muncie city officials started in 2016.
A year later it raided the offices of Muncie's then-Building Commissioner Craig Nichols. A federal judge sentenced him to two years in prison for money laundering and fraud.
The FBI and IRS began also began a joint investigation into the Muncie Sanitary District leading to five more arrests.
Muncie's police department is also under a federal investigation.
During the November election, Dan Ridenour won the mayor’s race in Muncie. He already is putting together a transition team to take over on the first of the new year and promises there will be no more city government corruption, especially since so many residents suspected the mayor was in already in hot water.
“It will not be tolerated, in any way, shape or form, we will not tolerate it in the new administration, starting January 1, 2020, It's not going to happen," Ridenour said.
Vivian LeForce is a longtime Muncie resident who learned Tyler was under investigation a while ago.
“It didn't really shock me because I know they have been investigating him for a while. But it was kind of a shock when I went into the McDonald's and they were all talking about that he just got busted,” said LeForce.
During the hearing Monday at the federal courthouse, Tyler told the court he will be employed through the rest of the year, now that he's out of jail. That basically meant he plans to finish out the rest of his term. That in itself does not sit well with Minkler, who promises to go after corrupt city leaders no matter where they are in Indiana.
Tyler will return to the federal courthouse in downtown Indianapolis January 21, 2020 to stand trial.