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Retired Munster, Ind., administrators owe district more than $850,000, attorney general says in lawsuit

May 25, 2017
Lawsuit contends that 2 retired superintendents received annuity payments to which they were not entitled.

The Indiana attorney general's office has sued two retired Munster school district superintendents in an effort to recover nearly $851,000 in public funds.

The Northwest Indiana Times reports that the suit comes almost a year after the Indiana State Board of Accounts issued a report that said retired superintendents William Pfister and Richard Sopko should repay $851,000 to the district. Sopko was also assistant superintendent for many years.

The report was sent to the Indiana attorney general’s office and the Lake County, Ind., prosecutor. The lawsuit was filed in Lake County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Neither Pfister nor Sopko could be reached for comment.

The State Board of Accounts audit covered the period from July 1, 1999, to June 30, 2014. Pfister was the superintendent from Aug. 12, 1991, to June 30, 2012. Sopko was the assistant superintendent or treasurer from July 1, 1998, to June 30, 2012, and superintendent from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014.

The State Board of Accounts audit asked Pfister to reimburse the district $463,922 for overpayment to his annuity, salary and stipend and other items. It asked Sopko to reimburse the district $377,475.

The suit says each of the administrators had a contract that stipulated how much money by percentage would be paid into the administrator's annuity account, but at the superintendent's direction the percentage was changed "without any knowledge or approval by the school board."

In Pfister's case, the suit contends, "Pfister's annuity starter percentage compounded to the point that by 2011 to 2012, he was receiving an extra annuity starter contribution of 38 percent of his salary, without any knowledge or approval by the School Town Board."

The suit also alleges that Pfister was wrongfully paid a bonus in the amount of $27,222.50 beyond what he was entitled to according to the terms of his contract.

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