(From left) City Attorney Megan Quirk and Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler held a press conference today in response to the arrest of Muncie’s building commissioner on Wednesday. Craig Nichols, 38, was charged with 16 counts of wire fraud, one count of theft of government funds and 16 counts of money laundering, according to the indictment. Max Lewis // DN
UPDATE: Building commissioner put on unpaid leave after yesterday's arrest
FBI investigators arrested Muncie's building commissioner, Craig Nichols, on Feb. 15, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
The City of Muncie released a statement that said the city is aware of the indictment, but there has not been any internal communication about the recent developments at this point.
Nichols has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, and an interim building commissioner will be named at a later date, according to a press release.
In response to the indictment, the city also held a press conference Feb. 16 at City Hall.
City attorney Megan Quirk said the city is cooperating with the investigation, and the building commissioner's office is up and running.
Mayor Dennis Tyler also spoke briefly against the advice of his attorneys, as well as Quirk.
Tyler apologized to the city employees for the trouble the FBI investigation has caused and said there are no allegations of criminal acts against the city.
The mayor began to speak about the indictment; however, before he could finish, Quirk interrupted and said, "Pardon me, we are not speaking of the indictment."
Quirk was asked repeatedly about the city officials that were named in the indictment. The indictment mentions "city official A" and "another city official."
Quirk said she thinks the two city officials named in the indictment are the mayor and another unknown city official based on the wording of the indictment.
The city said it will not be commenting any further on the indictment.
Tim Horty, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said 38-year-old Nichols was arrested by the FBI this morning on corruption-related charges and had his initial appearance this afternoon at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis. According to the indictment, Nichols was charged with 16 counts of wire fraud, one count of theft of government funds and 16 counts of money laundering.
Nichols abused his position as Muncie building commissioner by enriching himself through sham bidding practices, according to the indictment below.
Beginning in July 2015, Nichols and others embezzled, stole, obtained by fraud or otherwise converted at least $376,625 in city funds. The FBI issued search warrants at Nichols' office and home on Jan. 5, and a computer tower and government documents were confiscated.
“Seeking out and investigating public officials who exploit their official position for personal gain ranks No. 1 on the FBI’s criminal priorities list and is the sole purpose of the Indiana Public Corruption Task Force,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott in a press release Feb. 15. “The indictment and arrest of the City of Muncie Building Commissioner Craig Nichols is one more step in an ongoing investigation which seeks to identify and bring to justice any and all public officials or private citizens who have committed federal crimes and victimized the tax paying citizens of Muncie, Indiana."
Assistant U.S. attorney Tiffany J. McCormick, who is prosecuting this case for the government, said Nichols faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment if convicted of all charges.
This story will be updated.