LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — Former superintendent for the Lawrenceburg Municipal Utility (LMU), Olin Clawson, is facing 19 charges after an FBI investigation into irregularities in the agency's finances.
In Lawrenceburg, LMU provides utilities for residents instead of a private utility company. The agency is funded through utility bills and has separate funding from the rest of the Lawrenceburg city government, which is funded by taxes.
Clawson served as superintendent of LMU from November 18, 2014 through January 2, 2020. On March 25, 2020, the city announced in a press release that the results of an audit showed multiple issues within the city, including spending within LMU.
The FBI investigation showed that, on multiple occasions, Clawson submitted doctored or fabricated receipts for reimbursement vouchers.
Jud McMillan, Clawson's attorney, said Clawson's side of the story will show he never stole a dime.
"I believe that when all of the evidence comes out and it's not just a one-sided story anymore and there's an opportunity for us to cross-examine their allegations, it's going to be become clear that Olin Clawson did not take from a utility, from a city, from anybody else," he said.
In 2018, Clawson allegedly skimmed around $3,000 for himself from reimbursement vouchers submitted once in July and twice in September. Each time, he was seeking reimbursement for purchases of belt buckles given as awards at the 2018 Whiskey City Rodeo.
Documents show Clawson made three separate purchases from Poco Buckles & Saddles, located in New Mexico and owned by Clawson's uncle. Each time, the expense report he submitted was $1,000 higher than what Clawson's personal AMEX credit card statement showed, according to court documents.
Also in 2018, the Indiana Municipal Electric Association agreed to pay $10,000 to sponsor the Whiskey City Rodeo — which included having IMEA appear on the belt buckles Clawson ordered. However, when they arrived, the buckles were printed with "IMPA."
Though IMEA still decided to provide the sponsorship funds, Clawson reached out to the Indiana Municipal Power Agency and asked them to pay $10,700 for the buckles — around $2,000 more than their cost. IMPA agreed to make the payment. Clawson's uncle was interviewed by the FBI and allegedly told them his nephew had approved a mock-up of the buckles, which showed they would say IMPA.
Clawson also allegedly purchased over $6,000 worth of shirts for the Whiskey City Rodeo from Lil's Embroidery on his personal account then forged a fake invoice from a nonexistent company claiming the order was $1,068 more than it had been.
In October 2019, Clawson allegedly bought Delta Airlines tickets with his LMU credit card and then successfully filed a reimbursement voucher for his personal card. He was paid $618 for the tickets.
In December 2019, while LMU was under audit, Clawson attempted to pay back the $618, court documents say. Around this time, he also tried to account for the money from Lil's Embroidery by asking them to invoice him for the amount he allegedly stole.
When the FBI searched Clawson's work computer after he was fired, they found an additional fraudulent receipt claiming Clawson had spent $19,122.15 on his personal account at Poco Buckles. A voucher for reimbursement on the receipt was never filed, but court documents said it appeared he was planning to request payment for the purchase.
In all, Clawson is accused of stealing over $6,000 during his tenure as superintendent of LMU.
Clawson faces four counts of perjury, six counts of forgery, three counts of felony theft, four counts of official misconduct, and one count each of obstruction of justice and corrupt business influence.
According to court documents, the obstruction of justice charge was added after Clawson allegedly asked a utility accountant to falsify information about a check Clawson was trying to give LMU as a reimbursement for his illegal payouts.