Day one of Fennell trial wraps, lead FBI investigator takes the stand

A jury is seated and two witnesses took the stand Monday afternoon at the Franklin Fennell trial in Indianapolis.

Posted: Dec 11, 2017 1:00 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2017 8:57 AM

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTHI) - A jury is seated and two witnesses took the stand Monday afternoon at the Franklin Fennell trial in Indianapolis.

Fennell is accused of wire fraud, stealing federal funds, and lying to federal agents.

This all comes back to the federal raid on the Vigo County School Corporation offices back in June of 2016.

Fennell is the school corporations former director of facilities and is accused of operating a kickback scheme with the former liaison officer, Frank Shahadey, who's already pleaded guilty to these same charges.

Donna Wilson, the school corporation's former chief financial officer, and FBI Special Agent Joann Dowell took the stand.

Dowell was the lead investigator for the FBI in the case.

She testified that she spoke with Rick Long, who at the time was under Fennell as the assistant director of facilities.

Agent Dowell testified it was Long who alerted her that multiple administrators within the school corporation were receiving kickbacks.

However, Dowell said Long didn't mention anyone by name, who was receiving kickbacks.

Long did identify M&P Properties, owned by Mike Pick, as sending inflated invoices to the school corporation for work, and sometimes sending invoices for work that wasn't done at all.

From there, the FBI dug into M&P's business dealings, leading to the June 8th, 2016 FBI raid.

Fennell denied wrongdoing at the time and then again on a second occasion.

Agent Dowell said it was in July that Pick agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.

They say it was at that time Pick identified Fennell and Shahadey as his co-conspirators.

He would send in inflated invoices that Fennell would allegedly approve for payment.

Investigators say once that payment was received, Pick would withdraw the overage in cash and pay Fennell and Shahadey the overage, or as Shahadey called it..."Geeb."

The government said Pick will be the next witness when the Fennell trial resumes at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

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