LOOGOOTEE — City Councilman John Fraley faces a scheduled initial hearing this morning in Dubois Superior Court before Judge Mark McConnell in a theft case that might cause him to eventually resign from office.
Fraley will be represented by defense attorney Victor Ippoliti of Ferdinand. The attorney returned a call about the case Tuesday morning, but would only say, “No comment, Merry Christmas.”
According to the Nov. 23 Loogootee Tribune, Fraley and his stepson, Dustin Campbell, were arrested Nov. 19 by Jasper police. They were both charged with theft, a Class D felony.
The Tribune article states a press release from the Jasper Police Department alleges Fraley and Campbell stole several items from 1330 3rd Ave., Jasper, including water heaters, air conditioners and copper tubing.
The property is owned by Randy Judy, who reported the thefts to police. In the Tribune article, police also allege both men admitted taking items from the property.
Monday night, Fraley participated in the monthly meeting of the Loogootee City Council. No mention was made of his pending court hearing. Fraley is also a long-time city employee with the Street Department.
Following the meeting, Fraley referred most questions to Ippoliti, who had advised him not to comment. However, the councilman did strongly proclaim his innocence concerning the theft charge, and said he plans to remain in office.
When asked about information reported in the Tribune, Fraley said there were some discrepancies, but would not elaborate, deferring to Ippoliti.
A second Tribune article, which is undated, reported on an executive session held Nov. 26 by the Loogootee Board of Public Works and Safety. The board voted to suspend Fraley for five days without pay, while also reassigning him within the department.
Mayor Noel Harty confirmed Tuesday that Fraley had been demoted from backhoe laborer to step 3 in the department, which includes a reduction in pay.