- Marion Co. prosecutor ends Thomas investigation
- - Findings: parole board job had nothing to do with sheriff's campaign
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office has closed its investigation into allegations of a job offer meant to lure a Democrat out of the race for Clay County Sheriff, according to a report issued Tuesday.
The findings of the office's inquiry confirmed Steve Bell provided the tip that led to an Indianapolis Star story implicating Inspector General David Thomas, a Republican, in a plot to dissuade Bell from running against Republican incumbent Mike Heaton with the offer of an appointment to the Indiana Parole Board.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi indicated in the report an inquiry into the matter failed to turn up any evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Thomas' part. Had they been proven, the allegations Bell leveled at the inspector general may have constituted bribery, a Class D felony.
Roger Rayl, a spokesperson for the Marion County prosecutor, said Wednesday the inquiry ground to a halt when investigators failed to turn up any evidence of quid pro quo -- the Latin equivalent of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
"There was never really any offer," Rayl said. "It was Bell, not Thomas, that raised the issue of political consequences."
Bell maintained Thomas did nothing wrong during a conversation with investigators for the prosecutor's office March 8, just hours after the launch of the investigation. In a prepared statement to The Times made that evening, Bell apologized to Thomas and his family and admitted he misinterpreted their conversation.
According to the prosecutor's report, "Bell is adamant that Thomas never said the parole board position was contingent on Bell not running for sheriff."
Thomas told investigators he had spoken with Bell about the job opening last fall but never extended an offer, maintaining "he never linked the parole board position to Bell's potential candidacy for sheriff."
In a phone message left late Wednesday, Thomas said the prosecutor's report "tells you everything you need to know." Bell told The Times in an earlier interview he is eager to put the situation behind him.
Editor Frank Phillips contributed to this report.