Dennis Tyler, the Democrat mayor of Muncie, Indiana, was arrested on Nov. 18 by the FBI on charges of corruption. The indictment charges Tyler with one count of theft of government funds, reported Fox 59 Indianapolis. If convicted, he could face 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
According to Fox News, Tyler was arrested at his home at 7.30 a.m. local time.
“I can confirm an arrest warrant was executed at the home of Mayor Dennis Tyler this morning, and he is currently in custody,” said FBI Indiana spokeswoman Chris Bavender.
Tyler, 76, had his first court appearance Monday afternoon and has been released until his next court appearance in two weeks.
Tyler, who wasn’t seeking reelection this year, has been mayor for the past eight years. He was set to leave office at the end of December. Republican Dan Ridenour won the 2019 mayoral race over Democrat Terry Whitt Bailey, Tyler’s Community Development director, and he will take up office on Jan.1, 2020.
In the interim, if Tyler is unable to continue in his position as mayor, “According to the Indiana statute, it appears Councilman (Doug) Marshall will have to take over in the interim since Muncie has not had a deputy mayor position,” Chad Kinsella, an assistant professor of political science, told The Star Press.
A sign hung on the mayor’s door at City Hall on Monday morning: “Out to lunch. Will return shortly.”
According to the federal court filing, Tyler is facing charges of stealing government funds, after accepting $5,000 from the superintendent of sewer maintenance and engineering for the Muncie Sanitary District, Tracy Barton, in return for awarding them contracts.
Tyler has become the fourth person to be arrested in connection with this investigation over the past year. Six other Muncie officials or business leaders have been taken into custody since a corruption probe was instigated in 2016, with charges over corruption issues, with bid-rigging, money laundering, fraud, and other organized crime involved.
The investigation began after it had been discovered that former Muncie Building Commissioner Craig Nichols’s company, Advanced Walls and Ceilings, was paid $498,564 by the city between 2013 and 2015. A different company owned by Nichols, Capitol Consulting, was paid nearly $300,000 in 2015 and 2016, reports the Indy Star.
Nichols received a two-year prison sentence last January, after pleading guilty to money laundering and wire fraud.
Muncie Sanitary District Administrator Debra Nicole Grigsby, Muncie Sanitary District official Tracy Barton, and local business people Jeffrey Burke, Tony Franklin, and Rodney A. Barber have also been charged since the probe into corruption began.
Muncie Mayor-Elect Dan Ridenour issued this statement: “Today, we have learned of another arrest by the FBI in their ongoing investigation of Muncie city government. While this has become a pattern in our community of late, I am pleased that two weeks ago, voters overwhelmingly supported turning the page for a new day in Muncie. My commitment to all Muncie residents is to fulfill the request of our fellow citizens made at the ballot box; to shine a light on the dark corners of city government, to demand excellence from those who serve our residents, and above all, to operate in an honorable way on your behalf. For city of Muncie employees who are burdened by the string of news stories about the current administration please know that I share a commitment with you to operate the city of Muncie in a way that promotes the welfare for all. I look forward to working on transition issues with current city employees as we prepare to start a new chapter on Jan. 1, 2020. “