Former Anderson schools employee ordered to repay $2.9 million

Oct. 24—ANDERSON — The Indiana Attorney General's Office has won a default judgement against former Anderson Community Schools employee Carla Burke.

The lawsuit, filed in Madison Circuit Court Division 3, seeks repayment of $1,118,325 for funds Burke stole from ACS, plus three times the amount of damages under the Indiana Crime Victims Relief Act, in addition to court and attorney costs.

Judge Andrew Hopper on Oct 19 signed the default judgement requiring Burke to pay $2.9 million.

"Burke's conduct rises to the level of criminal theft deserving of enhanced damages under the CVRA to deter future public official corruption," the Attorney General's office wrote in the court record seeking the default judgement.

In February, Burke, 63, was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison after an audit found she redirected $976,773 in vendor payments to herself. As the ACS food service department bookkeeper, Burke had been responsible for maintaining the financial records for the school lunch fund extracurricular account.

She was sentenced to Camp Alderson, a federal minimum security prison in West Virginia for women.

She was ordered to pay $1,117,963 in restitution by the federal court.

At the time of her sentencing, Burke admitted that she had used the ACS food service account to bankroll her gambling addiction. She told the court that she had spent up to eight hours a day in a casino.

"The State seeks to redress harm done to the public welfare, the property of the State of Indiana, and the property of the Food Service Department ... which resulted from the misrepresentation and diversion of public funds," the lawsuit reads.

Anderson Community Schools Corp. hired Burke in 1998 and named her food service bookkeeper Oct. 2, 2006. She retired Oct. 10, 2019.

A State Board of Accounts audit, requested by the corporation and released in June 2022, specifically sought reimbursement of $1.1 million from Burke.

The amount included unauthorized transactions totaling $976,773, penalties and interest of $20,110 and audit costs of $121,442. The state audit covered 2014 through 2019.

The lawsuit filed by Attorney General Todd Rokita states that Burke committed malfeasance and related crimes in the performance of her job.

The state recovered $125,000 from insurance or bond coverage for Burke's position with Anderson schools to cover the costs of the Indiana State Board of Accounts investigation.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.