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Couple Accused of Erasable Ink Fraud

April 7, 2006

DEMOTTE, Ind. (AP) _ Prosecutors say a former deputy township trustee wrote checks in erasable ink to herself and her husband, then altered them after they cleared the bank.

Teresa Orsburn and her husband, former Keener Township Trustee Michael Orsburn, were named as defendants in a 15-count federal fraud indictment returned by a grand jury on Tuesday and sealed until the Jasper County couple surrendered two days later, the U.S. attorney’s office in Hammond announced Friday.

Michael Orsburn was the elected trustee in northwestern Indiana township from January 1999 until his resignation on March 31, 2005, after the fraud scheme had been discovered by other trustees who examined bank records, prosecutors said in a news release.

Orsburn appointed his wife the deputy trustee, and beginning in 2000, she wrote 117 unauthorized checks from the township checking account payable to herself or her husband, prosecutors said.

``Most of the unauthorized checks were written in erasable ink. When the canceled checks were returned from the bank with the monthly statements, Teresa altered the checks to make it appear that they were payable to a township vendor. She also made false entries in the check registered to disguise the true payee,″ the news release said.

Prosecutors did not reveal the amount drawn from the checking accounts.

The Orsburns were released after turning themselves in, said Mary Hatton, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors. She said she had no other information the case.

Calls to a residential telephone listing for a Mike Orsburn in Keener Township were not answered Friday afternoon.