New details come to light, one day after a Grand Jury handed down an 11 count indictment, alleging the Elmore County Coroner, Tim Ellison, used his position for personal gain. According to the Attorney General's Office, Ellison and co-defendant, Yancey Mitchell, were transporting bodies to the Department of Forensics and grossly overcharging the cities of Millbrook, Tallassee, Wetumpka and the Elmore County Sheriff's Office.
For the first time on the record, WSFA 12 News can report how the Elmore County Commission uncovered alleged personal profits, and helped launch a state investigation.
"I think it's a wake-up call for all agencies", reported Tallassee Police Chief, Jimmy Rogers. Rogers says he wasn't shocked by the indictment, "I was more surprised by the degrees of the charges". Rogers, like most city leaders involved, felt the overages noticed in 2011 were isolated to their department.
Elmore County Commission Chair, David Bowen, revealed the City of Wetumpka first brought the discrepancies to the commission's attention. Then cities quickly began comparing notes. Rogers remembers that moment clearly, "That's when we all got together and decided it was in our best interest to contract with an outside company to transport the bodies, instead of having to go through the coroner's office".
Wetumpka, Millbrook, Tallassee and the Elmore County Sheriff's Office contracted with Tri-County Transport. All contracts are still in place with the exception of Tallassee, which recently hired a different, local company for the job. Bowen says the Elmore County Commission lodged an ethics complaint against Ellison shortly thereafter, "We had to make sure tax dollars were being spent properly".
The AG's Office remains mum on how many checks are involved, the overall amount called into question, and if it's seeking more criminal charges. Bowen says it's an unfortunate state of affairs, "It's very sad this happened. After this alleged illegal activity came up, it's even more sad an elected official was using his position for personal gain".
It could be February before the defendants have their day in court. While their case hasn't been filed, the next arraignment docket in Elmore County is scheduled for February 4th.
Both parties maintain their innocence.
The Elmore County coroner and a Wetumpka funeral home director have both been indicted on multiple felony charges of theft and ethics law violations.
Elmore County Coroner Tim Ellison, 55, is accused of using his position for personal gain. The 11 counts against him include use of position for personal gain, theft, theft by deception, and theft of property.
Ellison turned himself in to the Elmore County Sheriff's Department. His bond has been set at $35,000.
The indictment of Ellison makes the following charges:
The director of Hillside Mortuary in Wetumpka, Yancey Mitchell, 62, has been named a co-defendant in the case. Mitchell has been indicted on charges of providing false statements, theft of property, theft of property by deception and use of position for personal gain.
Mitchell's bond was set at $18,000.
The indictment of Mitchell makes the following charges:
Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.