- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is seeking nearly $1 million in restitution from a former northern Indiana school district official and a business owner who were both charged with an illegal kickback scheme.

The civil lawsuit seeking repayment was filed Monday and names Gregory A. Schroeder, a former maintenance director of Warsaw Community Schools, and Brian K. Stowers, owner of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky-based Continental Maintenance Specialties.

Zoeller’s office says in a news release that Schroeder allegedly received $115,000 in kickbacks from Stowers in exchange for purchasing a nearly $800,000 in chemical products - an amount vastly greater than what the school district needed. Stower has since filed for bankruptcy.

Both men face felony corruption charges issued by the Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office and remain free on $5,000 bail while awaiting trial.

Schroeder did not respond to a request for comment. In a Monday phone interview, Stowers vehemently denied either he or Schroeder were “out to screw the school.” But he acknowledged “helping a friend out of my own damn pocket.”

“You got six board members that see these invoices every month,” Stowers said. “It blows my mind on how they can come with up an ordeal that there’s this big scam.”

A spokesman for Zoeller alleged that investigators observed a pattern of payments made to Schroeder dating back to 2005 that “closely corresponded” with chemical purchases from Stowers’ company. Kickbacks were allegedly issued by check, money order or through payments on a Harley Davidson motorcycle owned by Schroeder. In total, 90 payments were made, authorities said.

The alleged scheme was discovered after an audit by the State Board of Accounts found the district spent $790,298 on 16,000 gallons of kitchen drain chemicals when just 860 gallons were needed.

If Zoeller succeeds with his lawsuit, most of the money will be awarded to the school district.

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