Indiana State Police are investigating Zionsville police Det. Robert Anderson for allegedly misleading an insurance company to give Zionsville police the title to a car that was used in a crime.
The car, a 2007 Nissan 350Z, was traded in to help pay for a 2010 Ford F150 pickup truck, used by Zionsville police chief Richard Dowden. The truck was towed Wednesday, June 29, from the Zionsville Police Department after Boone County Superior Court II Judge Rebecca McClure issued a search warrant requested by special prosecutor David Powell.
This is the second time in five days a local police officer has come under investigation for allegedly wrongfully obtaining for department use a vehicle that was involved in a crime.
On Friday, June 24, ISP confiscated a Jeep that Whitestown Maj. Jim Fouch allegedly took after it was confiscated in a June 2009 homicide case. Fouch was charged Friday and placed on paid leave Tuesday night, June 28.
No charges have been filed against any ZPD officers as of press time. Anderson could not be reached for comment.
According to the ISP search warrant affidavit, the Nissan was confiscated as one of three cars involved in the April 2009 sale of three stolen vehicles. The other two stolen cars were returned to their owners. (See related story.) The case report was written by Anderson.
The affidavit says the investigation into Anderson began on Nov. 19 when Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer called ISP Det. Paul Baker. Meyer told Baker a Zionsville police officer came to his office to tell him about questionable acts regarding the mishandling of evidence by another Zionsville police officer.
One of the questionable acts was how ZPD obtained title to the Nissan.
The Nissan was originally owned by Leroy Lewis in Maryland. The car had been reported stolen, and Lewis was reimbursed $21,860 by his insurance company, Liberty Mutual. On June 1, 2009, Anderson began communications with Liberty Mutual explaining he had recovered the Nissan and “that it will not be released because of criminal activity.” He also said the department will have it “for a while if not forever.”
According the emails obtained by the state police and included in the affidavit, Anderson told the insurance company that the police department was waiting for a forfeiture hearing and was seeking ownership of the car. He also told the insurance company that the costs associated with keeping and forfeiting the car would exceed the car’s value.
As a result of Anderson’s conversations with the insurance company, Liberty Mutual agreed to transfer a salvage title — a title issued when damage to the vehicle exceeds 70 percent of value — to the town for the Nissan. The state issued the title to the Town of Zionsville on Feb. 15, 2010. On Nov. 12, the Nissan was traded to a local car dealership Lebanon for a $9,147 credit toward the $29,121 purchase price of the pickup truck.
The affidavit says Anderson admitted in a recent interview with ISP that his representations about the car to Liberty Mutual were wrong. Anderson also admitted that he didn’t understand the forfeiture process. Court records also show that no forfeiture suit had been filed. And just as in the Whitestown case, because the owner of the car wasn’t aware it was going to be used in a crime, it was not subject to forfeiture.
Court records show that the alleged forfeiture misrepresentations that lead to Zionsville and Whitestown each gaining titles to cars used in crimes were within six months of each other: Zionsville’s in June 2009; Whitestown’s in January 2010.
Zionsville has been conducting its own review of police policies and procedures. Zionsville Town Manager Ed Mitro said Wednesday that until that investigation is complete or special prosecutor Powell files charges in the ISP investigation, the town will not take action on the Anderson investigation.
Friday Fouch was charged with theft, deception and official misconduct for giving false information to Abbott Laboratories to obtain title to the 2007 Jeep Michael Stayer drove to his wife’s townhouse the day he killed her.
Vehicle theft timeline according to the Zionsville police report filed by Det. Robert Anderson and court records:
April 28, 2009 — Brian McCall of Midwest Estate Buyers in Zionsville buys a Ford 350 truck, a 2009 Ford Flex and a 2007 Nissan 350Z from Seannacy McNeill, an alias name for Khalis Hassa Smith.
May 2009 — McCall tries to sell the Flex and the Nissan at Pearson Ford in Zionsville. He discovers the two cars are stolen. McCall sells the Ford 350 to a dealer in Plainfield. That truck is later sold to an individual who discovers it’s stolen when he gets an oil change. McCall refunds the money for the F350 truck.
May 11, 2009 — McCall tells Det. Anderson about the three stolen vehicles. The Flex was reported stolen from Ace Rent A Car in Indianapolis, the 350Z from an individual in Maryland. Both cars were impounded by M&M Towing.
May 12, 2009 — McCall calls ZPD to tell them that McNeill is on the way to Midwest Estate Buyers’ office on First Street. ZPD Capt. Rob Knox went to McCall’s office to wait for McNeill. McNeill is taken into custody. ZPD confiscates the Flex, Nissan and a 2008 Ford Explorer, which was driven by McNeill.
May 13, 2009 — McNeil was charged with three counts of auto theft. His trial is set for Sept. 12.