Darmstadt Town Council President, residents react to investigation

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DARMSTADT, Ind. (WEHT) – Calls are growing for Darmstadt Town Council President Paul Freeman to resign after a week of allegations and news of a formal investigation launched into some town employees.

Vanderburgh Co. Deputies said they were contacted on Thursday, June 17, about potential misconduct, including an employee allegedly utilizing property that belongs to the town. 

Eyewitness News first brought you this story on Wednesday when some residents staged a protest outside Darmstadt Town Hall. Residents said they were also concerned about a possible misuse in town funds. The town council had to cancel an executive session.

The allegations center around Darmstadt’s Maintenance Superintendent. No formal charges have been filed in this investigation and therefore Eyewitness News is not naming the superintendent. 

According to multiple Darmstadt residents, they have photographic and video evidence showing Darmstadt’s maintenance superintendent using town owned equipment and the town’s credit card for personal expenses. 

They say it was due to lack of oversight and accountability and both should have resulted in the superintendent’s termination.

“While we feel this is a step in the right direction, it’s just the beginning of what is needed, our Town Council President Paul Freeman was actively trying to keep him and remove the two whistleblowers from the maintenance department,” said concerned Darmstadt resident Eric Gries. “Saying these actions are normal and accepted in many businesses, we can assure you this is not normal and not something we agree with.” 

These same residents are now calling for Town Council President Paul Freeman to resign.

“Paul has gone as far as to deliberately distribute false information to the town council that directly influences their decisions on these critical matters,” Gries said. “In our opinion, a lack of oversight by Mr. Freeman has allowed these problems to develop.”

Paul Freeman said not so fast. He said the superintendent and another employee both used town owned equipment and material and had the permission to do so.

He said everything was returned to the Town of Darmstadt. Freeman said the superintendent was suspended, pending the results of an internal investigation. 

“In that (investigation) we found some more things that were alarming,” Freeman said. “We have a whole cultural issue that needs to be addressed in the Town of Darmstadt.” 

Darmstadt has two full time employees and one temporary employee. Freeman said they have followed the guidelines with the state board of accounts.

As for the calls for Freeman to resign, he said he will not step aside. 

“I have been on the board since 2009, I have asked multiple people to step into my role, at which point I have not had anyone,” Freeman said. “There has been a tremendous amount of hyperbole and exaggeration, but underneath that there is also some truth and what we are trying to do is discern what is the best situation.” 

The case is ultimately going to be up to the Vanderburgh County Sheriff, if they find enough evidence to file formal charges against the individuals who have alleged involvement.

“We’re looking at the entire board, the employees, the superintendent, which would be I guess equivalent to their county garage if you will,” Vanderburgh County Sheriff Major Jason Ashworth said on Thursday. “So we’re looking at all the employees and talking to everyone to see what involvement if any of them have.” 

As of Friday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office said they don’t have any new information to release. 

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