As he fights for his future as possible Vanderburgh County Sheriff, family financial woes are revealed for Kirk Byram.
According to the Courier and Press, Vanderburgh County sheriff candidate Kirk Byram and his wife borrowed $139,280 from his mother in 2006 and haven’t returned the money. “That was my retirement and now I have to work until I die,” Charlene Byram, the candidate’s mother, told the Courier and Press.
The Vanderburgh County Democratic Party claims, during routine opposition research, they discovered the Republican Sheriff candidate strategically filed bankruptcy, not out of necessity. Party officials say among the unsecured debts listed were 2 loans from Byram's mother, Charlene Byram, for just under $152,000. At the same time, they claim, Byram reaffirmed the loans on his house and car. Records show, in addition to the loan from his mother, he wiped out a loan to, who is believed to be, his father for $10,000.
The Courier & Press reports that Kirk Byram and his wife, Trina Byram owed $976,268 at the time of their filing. About $750,000 of the debt was related to two businesses they started.
Trina Byram arranged for a mortgage on an Evansville property that Charlene Byram inherited.
Charlene Byram described, in detail, a case file telling the court about the loan for the Courier & Press. She wrote, “Enclosed you will find a copy of the check that was handed over to (Trina Byram) the day the loan was taken out on my home. She was to repay this loan, but took the money and never spoke to me again and did not repay the money. She has hid this money somewhere.”
Charlene Byram tells the Courier and Press, at the signing for the mortgage, she was assured by her daughter-in-law that attorneys were crafting the paperwork to guarantee payment. That paperwork never arrived. Upon receiving the loan, Charlene Byram wrote a check for $139,280 to the now-dissolved Family Fitness Inc, a business Kirk and Trina started in 2005 with Kirk’s brother, Greg. The word “loan” appears on the check dated Nov. 28, 2006.
State records show the business dissolved in 2009, shortly after the Byrams filed for bankruptcy.
Kirk Byram claims the bankruptcy strained his family. He and Trina Byram addressed the issue to the Courier and Press when approached Sunday at a gathering of supporters.
“It’s a part of our lives we went through. We learned a lot from it. I mean, we all make mistakes and it was a huge mistake. And you learn and you move on with that,” he said.
Trina Byram said she would not call the pair of failed businesses a “mistake.”
“We did this because we wanted to open a business just like any American. We did it, there was a recession and it tanked,” she said.
The Courier and Press obtained court records showing that the property Byram's mother borrowed against used to loan the couple the money was nearly foreclosed on.
The property was a rental and had been providing Charlene Byram about $2,000 monthly, according to the bankruptcy petition she filed after the broken deal.
“I assumed they were making the payments and then I got the foreclosure letter in the mail,” Charlene Byram said to the Courier and Press.
She managed to avoid foreclosure because her employer took ownership of the property, at 701 N. Boehne Camp Road.
The Sheriff's Department, for which Kirk Byram is a candidate for, is responsible for the largest department in Vanderburgh County Government. The office has a proposed 2015 budget of $13.7 million.
Kirk Byram sites differences between running the Sheriff's office and small businesses.
“Managing a personal business, you don’t know what revenue is coming in. You don’t know what kind of money you’re going to have month to month. The Sheriff’s office you’re given a budget. Currently, I’m fleet manager. I run our entire fleet. I have to operate within a budget. If the Sheriff’s office is so worried about me handling money, why would they put me in charge for the entire fleet for the office?”
Kirk Byram tells the Courier and Press he knows how to manage money.
“You give me a budget, you put that in front of me, I know what we can allocate. … My budget it will be transparent, (people) will see what money we have. They will see where it’s going.”
Some family members blame his wife for the financial situation.
Charlene Byram told the Courier and Press “His wife did all of this.”
Kirk Byram claims his family supports his candidacy, as does his mother.
He told the Courier and Press, “That’s something that’s trying to be said that they’re not supporting me and that is untrue. That is not true,” he said.
Eric Byram said he has a “Dave Wedding for Sheriff” sign in his front yard in support of the Democratic incumbent.
Charlene Byram declined to discuss the political race.
The Vanderburgh County Democratic Party also issued a press release on the matter.