COLUMBIA CITY — Mark Green, the former Columbia City Parks Director, appeared in Whitley County Circuit Court Monday, May 8 for an initial hearing.
Green, 51, of Columbia City, faces nine counts including four counts of corrupt business influence, Level 5 felonies; four counts of theft, Level 5 and 6 felonies; and one count of official misconduct, Level 6 felony.
The incidents in this case began in May of 2018, according to a probable cause affadvit filed by Roland Purdy, detective with the Indiana State Police.
It sets out that Green had visited Sport Spot in Fort Wayne to purchase baseball cards. He told the owner these cards were going to be sold at the concession stand in the park. Green first used the city's card to purchase some $2,200 worth of cards, but instead of selling them at the concession stand, Green sold the cards through eBay for personal gain.
The affadivit sets out the purchases totaled $2,205.97 that first year, $38,063 in 2019, $41,495 in 2020, $76,208.98 in 2021, $71,923 in 2022 and $16,400 in 2023. It totaled $246,295.95 over the five years.
As stated in court documents, Columbia City Clerk Treasurer Rosie Coyle told Purdy she had printed a budget history for the park office staff. At that time Green was asked to provide the document to Park Program Coordinator Melinda Leininger. The affadavit states Green refused to do so.
It continues that Coyle sent the documents to Leininger, who expressed concerns over invoices from Sport Spot, which indicated purchases were made for equipment and repair services. Most of the original invoices, Coyle told investigators, were difficult to read as Green had written on them.
Coyle conducted an online search, and discovered Sport Spot only sold sports cards and collectibles, which she said was verified after contacting the business.
Purdy reported he visited Sport Spot, who confirmed Green had purchased cards from the business, but when shown the invoices said they had been altered. The owner also told investigators at times the total purchase amount would not be approved by the cardholder, in which case Green would purchase a portion of the total with his own credit card, and the remainder with the city's.
The purchases themselves would be tax-exempt due to the city's tax exempt status. Green would receive W-2s from eBay for the sales made. As stated in the report, Green earned $35,000 in 2022 alone. The transactions took place on a tablet, provided to Green by the city.
The affadivit states Green reported no one else was involved in or aware of what he was doing, including city staff and employees from Sport Spot.
The reason he had chosen to sell cards, the affadavit reads, is because "the market for sports cards skyrocketed." It further states Green's motive was due to the financial pressure of supporting his son's career, which was not indicated in the document.
During his initial hearing, the state said the investigation is still underway as it waits for the forensic audit from the Indiana State Board of Accounts. Green is represented by Ryan Gardner. During his initial hearing he submitted a not guilty plea. He will next appear in court for a pretrial conference on Aug. 14 at 10 a.m.
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