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VERDICT: Jury makes decision in Franklin Fennell trial

The jury has reached a verdict in the Franklin Fennell trial. We are waiting to hear their decision.

Posted: Dec 13, 2017 7:44 PM

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTHI) - The jury has reached a verdict in the Franklin Fennell trial. We are waiting to hear their decision. 

We will pass the verdict along as soon as we receive it.


The jury in the Franklin Fennell trial has been in deliberation since 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.

The jury is working to decide whether Fennell is guilty of wire fraud, theft of government funds and lying to federal agents.

News 10's Jon Swaner is at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis. We will have updates as soon as they come in.

Original Day Three Story Below 

Franklin Fennell told the judge presiding over his trial he will not testify in his own defense.

The jury should get the case late Wednesday afternoon after both the government and Fennell's lawyer offer their final arguments to the jury.

News 10 expects the case to go to the jury around 4 p.m.

Fennell faces charges of wire fraud, theft of federal funds, and lying to federal agents.

Three FBI agents took to the stand in the morning session of day three. Special Agent Jake Overton testified about his initial interview with Fennell the morning agents raided Vigo County School Corporation facilities, including its central and facilities offices.

Fennell was Facilities Director for VCSC at the time of the raid, June 8, 2016.

SA Overton testified he gave Fennell numerous opportunities to confess to the alleged scheme that agents suspected was going on between Fennell, former Vigo County Sheriff's Deputy Frank Shahadey and Mike Pick, owner of M&P Properties.

Fennell used that company many times for tree trimming, as well as tree and stump removal.

It was clear through the questioning by Assistant US Attorney Nick Linder that they were working hard to prove the last two counts Fennell faces in the indictment, lying to federal agents.

Overton said the more he questioned Fennell about whether he received anything of value from any VCSC vendors, the more he denied it.

"I don't take any money from anyone for anything," Fennell said to Overton that day. Overton's interview with Fennell was recorded. Excerpts from that interview were played in open court.

"100 percent on my kids, I've not received any money from anyone," Fennell said on another occasion.
"As far as personal money in my pocket, absolutely not," Fennell said on a third occasion.
Overton testified the interview lasted three hours. He also testified that Fennell ended the interview by saying, "I have not received nothing personally from any vendor."

Fennell had already talked about a $500 donation Pick made to a GoFundMe account Fennell set up to benefit his daughter.

He also spoke previously to Overton about tickets to an Indianapolis Colts game he received from a vendor. He later owned up to receiving tickets for Pacers and Indy Indians games from vendors.

Overton testified he felt Fennell was lying the whole time.

Overton was also asked about the FBI's surveillance of Pick after he agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.

On July 15, 2016, Pick met Shahadey at VCSC's central office. The FBI took over funding the alleged "kickback" from Pick and provided pre-recorded $100 bills to Pick to serve as payment.

After searching his car and person before meeting Shahadey, Overton said agents armed Pick with the agreed upon kickback cash. Their conversation was audio recorded.

Overton testified agents saw Pick go inside the office with Shahadey, then left. Shahadey was followed by another group of agents, who saw him enter Fennell's eastside Terre Haute residence.

But at no time did agents see Shahadey give Fennell cash.

Overton said the FBI also has investigated multiple VCSC vendors and administrators, and their investigation was ongoing.

Special Agent Timothy Kumpf, a resident agent assigned to Muncie, also testified. He was present during Fennell's second interview with federal authorities, which took place at the US Attorney's office in Indianapolis.

Again, Fennell denied being involved in a kickback scheme.

Kumpf was also one of the agents who searched Fennell's residence the day he was arrested, November 2, 2016.

SA Kumpf testified he found documents related to VCSC vendors at Fennell's residence. He also located a Sushi Umi gift card for $200 in an orange purse that belonged to Fennell's wife.

Previous testimony indicated Pick purchased that gift card for Fennell at Shahadey's direction. Fennell told Pick when he knew nothing about the card.

One juror noted a bag of Jolly Ranchers concealed a number in the upper right-hand corner of the FBI's photograph of the gift card.

SA Dowell said of the 65 invoices Pick submitted to VCSC, 59 were inflated. Pick was paid a total of $457,516, and the government alleges the kickbacks totaled $110,600.

We'll find out by Wednesday evening whether the jury in this case believes any of that money was taken by Fennell.

Closing arguments are set to begin at 2:30 p.m.

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