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Noel attorney seeks to pause New Chapel lawsuit amid criminal case

Former Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel stands near his lawyers in a court room, with the prosecutor in the foreground.
Giselle Rhoden
An attorney for former Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel is seeking to pause a lawsuit filed against him by New Chapel EMS.

An attorney for former Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel has requested a stay in a lawsuit filed against him by New Chapel EMS until his criminal case is completed.

A judge could rule on whether to pause proceedings in a lawsuit filed by New Chapel EMS against former Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel as his criminal case continues.

The nonprofit, which Noel formerly operated, filed the suit in March. It alleges New Chapel has been unable to access two credit card accounts for which Noel was the primary cardholder, and that payments were set to come from its bank account.

New Chapel attorney Heather Archibald-Peters asked the court to remove the nonprofit from the credit card accounts and to not hold it responsible for any charges made since January — when Noel was terminated as CEO — and “any and all charges not made in the course of day-to-day operations” of New Chapel business since the accounts were opened.

Noel was arrested in November and released the following day on a $75,000 bond, but he was taken back into custody and sentenced to 60 days in jail last week after a judge found him in contempt of court.

Current New Chapel CEO Matt Owen told LPM News last month the organization tried to work with Noel to get control of the accounts. When that didn’t happen, and after a $38,000 payment was debited from New Chapel’s bank account in February, they filed the complaint.

“So the series of events is really about just making sure that we have some oversight and accountability of what's being charged,” Owen said last month. “And because we've not been able to provide for that, that's why we are where we are.”

Subpoenas were sent to Noel, American Express and Synchrony Bank. Over the weekend, attorney Larry Wilder filed a motion to stay the lawsuit proceedings to protect Noel’s Fifth Amendment rights in his criminal case.

“The issues raised in the civil case herein are inextricably intertwined with the allegations stated in the criminal matter,” according to the motion. It also states New Chapel is able to get the information requested from Noel from other sources.

Wilder requested an emergency order staying the request for admissions and discovery, and a hearing for a temporary stay of all proceedings, pending the resolution of the criminal case.

He also filed a motion for a change of judge. Blaine S. Goode was recently appointed as a special judge in the case, after Kyle Williams recused himself. The motion has been accepted and a new judge will be assigned.

Noel is facing 25 felonies, including theft and tax evasion related to allegations he charged personal items and services to New Chapel. That trial date has been moved from May 6 to Nov. 6. His wife and daughter are also facing charges.

Owen said American Express notified New Chapel on March 21 that it closed one of the accounts — which has been a focus of the criminal investigation — based on “regulatory guidelines.” He said the other account with Synchrony Bank remains open and in Noel’s name. But Owen said it’s not currently being used and he doesn’t believe there are accusations of misuse on that account.

In a response filed this week, Archibald-Peters, the New Chapel attorney, said the organization doesn’t oppose a stay for Noel’s discovery responses. But it does object to a stay of the full proceedings, saying it would “damage the plaintiff greatly” and cause a delay “almost indefinitely given the complexity of the defendant’s criminal case.”

“While Justice, the Constitution of the United States and the State of Indiana may give the Defendant the right to silence, it does not give him the right to hold the Plaintiff hostage and continue to take steps that harm the Plaintiff without redress,” the response reads.

The filing includes a statement for an American Express Business Gold Rewards account associated with New Chapel, with Noel’s card usage detailed.

It shows a more than $38,000 payment posted to the card on Feb. 7, and a second document shows it came out of New Chapel’s account at Fifth Third Bank the following day.

The statement lists just under $7,000 in new charges from Jan. 29 to Feb. 27.

Some appear to be recurring subscription charges for things like internet, news and satellite radio. There are also several Amazon purchases and a $939 charge to “Cincinnati Reds.”

Owen said another $475 payment came out of New Chapel’s bank account March 14, before the American Express account was closed.

Other cases

The New Chapel lawsuit is one of several related cases in which Noel is a party.

In March, the children of Noel’s late brother, Leon, filed a petition to reopen their father’s estate case. Jamey Noel was the executor, and an attorney representing the family said he defrauded Leon Noel’s children out of their full inheritance.

Judge Nick Karaffa recused himself and Special Judge Donald J. Mote was assigned to the case. A pretrial conference is scheduled for April 26 in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

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

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

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