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Details released on latest warrants in criminal case against former Southern Indiana sheriff

Former Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel
Clark County Sheriff's Office
New information has been released in the criminal investigation of former Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel. He's was charged last month with 15 felonies including corrupt business influence, theft and ghost employment.

New information has been released about additional warrants served late last month in the ongoing criminal investigation of former Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel. They include allegations he and his associates were found with government surplus equipment given to the sheriff’s office, and that he used the jail’s commissary fund to pay the former Scott County sheriff for consulting work.

Noel, who served as sheriff from 2015 to 2022, was arrested Nov. 9 and charged with 15 felonies including corrupt business influence, theft and ghost employment. He’s since been released after posting a $75,000 cash bond.

Indiana State Police served initial warrants in August.

On Nov. 29, ISP served nine additional warrants — at Noel’s home and pole barn, as well as the home of John Brent Kimmick and the home and business of Kenny and Lyndi Hughbanks.

Kenny Hughbanks is the Scott County Republican Party chair and served as the county’s sheriff in 2018. He has also been employed by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. His wife, Lyndi, is the president of the Scott County Council.

Kimmick worked for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office until earlier this year, and court records show he’s now with Utica Township Volunteer Firefighters Association/New Chapel EMS, which Noel has operated.

Information from the latest warrants was released Thursday. They shed light on additional accusations against Noel, including that he and his associates kept surplus equipment the sheriff’s office received from the federal government and that he used the Clark County jail’s commissary fund to pay Kenny Hughbanks for consulting services. Court records also implicate Hughbanks and his wife for tax issues.

Investigators were seeking receipts for construction supplies, receipts into the commissary fund for auction sales, government surplus equipment owned by the sheriff's office, and insurance and business documents associated with Noel, his wife or daughter, or Utica/New Chapel.

Investigators also requested to inspect all vehicles in Noel’s pole barn and compare them with title and purchase documents provided by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. They requested to seize all vehicles on the property belonging to Utica/New Chapel.

Government surplus equipment 

As part of the investigation, police talked with Jeffrey Groh, who served as colonel with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office during Noel’s first term.

Groh described Noel as a “very secretive person,” and described an incident where he’d discovered a warehouse full of surplus equipment — including forklifts, generators and a “vast amount” of hand tools — at a space the sheriff’s office leased at the River Ridge Commerce Center. He said Noel told him the property was free from the government and eventually could be sold, with the money going to the department.

Groh said he wanted a full inventory taken of the items, and that Noel told him Hughbanks would be in charge of that. Groh said he was later denied access to the space by Hughbanks on multiple occasions.

Court records show the federal Defense Criminal Investigative Services confirmed the Clark County Sheriff’s Office received more than $7 million worth of surplus items from Jan. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2022.

But investigators said not all of that equipment remained in possession of the sheriff’s office. They reported finding items at other locations including Noel’s pole barn, Kimmett’s home and several locations of Utica/New Chapel.

Police also found a notice in October advertising the auction of a generator and two air compressors matching the sheriff’s office surplus inventory.

Kenny Hughbanks’ involvement 

Court records show Hughbanks started as a corrections officer with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in 2004, moving to maintenance two years later. He resigned in 2015 and returned the following year for a job in the information technology department.

In April 2018, he was named Scott County Sheriff to finish Dan McClain’s term, after he was appointed as a U.S. Marshal. Hughbanks served out the rest of the year and did not run for election.

Noel has served as the Republican Party chair for Clark County and Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, which includes Scott County.

Clark County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mark Grube told investigators it seemed unusual for a person who was not a graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, like Hughbanks, to be appointed as sheriff. He said he felt it “was a result of Jamey Noel’s vast political influence” as party chair and “a reward for the various favors Hughbanks performed for Sheriff Noel.”

Following his brief time as Scott County sheriff, Hughbanks returned to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office as a major and was given the title of Operations Corrections Commander.

He resigned in December 2019 but stayed on with the department as a consultant through his business, Hughbanks Enterprises LLC.

A joint investigation by ISP, the Indiana State Board of Accounts and Indiana Department of Revenue showed Hughbanks or his related businesses were paid more than $265,000 out of the Clark County jail’s commissary fund between March 2015 and December 2022. His father’s electrical business was paid nearly $16,000 from the fund.

Commissary funds are profits the sheriff’s office raises through the sale of goods to people incarcerated in the jail. Indiana code outlines how the money can be used.

Police said many of the invoices for Hughbanks’ consulting lacked a description, with some including they were payments for aviation insurance, electrical services and auction consulting services.

Court records show he refused to accept a 1099 tax form from a Clark County Sheriff’s Office staff member, saying if he had one, he’d have to pay taxes. Police say Noel told the staff member not to give him the 1099.

Investigators said Hughbanks’ LLC is not registered with the Indiana Department of Revenue, and that there had never been an income tax form filed for the business in the state.

Other findings 

As part of the second round of warrants, police also took control of two vehicles at Noel’s home, including a 2020 Mercedes Benz they said he got two years ago from trading in a $92,000 Corvette owned by Utica/New Chapel.

They also accused him of stealing or embezzling $45,000 from Utica/New Chapel to purchase a 1959 Corvette which he then titled in his name.

Court records also detail a “facilities use agreement” the Utica Volunteer Firefighters Association board signed this August allowing them to use Noel’s pole barn. In exchange, the department is responsible for utilities, upkeep and any upgrades for the barn.

Police found a Dodge Ram at Kimmick’s home that he said belongs to Utica/New Chapel. Police said the truck “does not contain any lights, markings or equipment on it related to being a fire department vehicle.”

The ongoing case 

Under the original bond conditions following his arrest, Noel was to surrender his passport and all firearms except for one shotgun for personal protection, and he was not to leave the state without permission from the court.

His defense has since requested and received exceptions to the stipulation that he remain in the state, including an upcoming trip to California with his attorney Larry Wilder and their wives that was booked before Noel was charged.

His legal team also recently filed a notice of appeal to the order on the initial hearing, though it’s not clear what they’re seeking to change. An appellate brief has not yet been filed and a request for clarification last week by LPM News was not returned.

Noel’s trial is currently scheduled for May 6.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.