State audit: Taletha Coles, former Fairfield trustee, owes $138K for unauthorized spending
Already facing sentencing on criminal charges, a new 49-page state report outlines Coles’ inappropriate spending and personal gains during her turbulent time as Fairfield Township trustee
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STATE AUDIT: TALETHA COLES, FORMER FAIRFIELD TRUSTEE, OWES $138K FOR UNAUTHORIZED SPENDING
One of Taletha Coles’ go-to lines during her tumultuous time as Fairfield Township trustee, as her township board, media and former employees asked her to produce receipts for loads of random purchases on the township’s dime, was that she was the one who asked the State Board of Accounts to go over her books.
In a September 2021 interview, after the State Board of Accounts confirmed an audit had started in August of that year, Coles insisted that she’d asked for “a soft audit” of the township, “just to prove I don't have anything to hide.”
After the SBOA later confirmed that in January 2022 it had asked Indiana State Police to collect records from the township offices on Wabash Avenue – including financial statements/ledgers; bank statements; vendor invoices to support disbursements; receipts; payroll records; board minutes; resolutions; vehicle titles; and death certifications – Coles again said it was of her own doing to keep township board members from using her records for some sort of sabotage.
“I actually asked them to do the audit, because I was continually being accused of money being missing from my budget,” Coles said in February 2022. “Which no money is missing. So, all this paperwork, I worked and worked and worked to show that all the T's are crossed, all the I's are dotted. There's nothing missing. I asked them to do an audit on me to make all this go away. … That’s why I had State Board of Accounts get involved first, so (township board members) can’t twist the information that they’re given.”
In a special investigation report filed Wednesday, the State Board of Accounts doesn’t reveal who raised “concerns relating to township vendor and credit card disbursements.”
But the conclusion untwisted from an SBOA investigation, covering records from Jan. 1, 2019, when Coles took office, until Oct. 19, 2022, when she resigned: Coles was on the hook for $138,183 – including more than $84,000 in state investigation costs – for purchases she made for personal use through township credit cards, payroll, merchandise rebates and other means.