Governor, BMV respond to report that officials knew of overcharges for several years

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INDIANAPOLIS (March 23, 2015) – Indiana Democrats on Monday called for an investigation into the Bureau of Motor Vehicles after an investigation by our newsgathering partners at the Indianapolis Star revealed BMV officials knew about millions of dollars in likely charges for years, before they were made public.

The investigation cited thousands of pages of documents and depositions obtained by The Star, including the testimony of Matthew Foley, a former deputy BMV director, who spent more than a year reviewing BMV fees and questioned dozens of potential overcharges in 2011. That report came two years before the overcharges were made public on 2013.

“We want to know how much and how far back,” Irwin Levin said, an attorney with Cohen & Malad, who’s filed the class action lawsuits against the BMV. “The idea of whether they covered it up or they said I don’t want to see what Mr. Foley has to say, that will be up to the judge to decide.”

Indiana Democratic Party Chair John Zody and Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis) called on Gov. Mike Pence to demand a further investigation.

“These are questions that should have been asked a long time ago by the Inspector General,” Zody said. “I don’t know why the governor hasn’t called for an investigation yet.”

For its part, BMV officials responded to the report Monday with a two-page fact sheet.

BMV Fact Sheet

The BMV quickly decried any potential cover-up, saying internal documents and depositions also show the agency actually undercharged Hoosier taxpayers more than it overcharged, by an estimated $80 million between 2006 and 2013.

“There is no evidence of anyone taking steps to hid facts from the public,” the fact sheet said.

Last month, Pence appointed Kent Abernathy to take over the agency in the midst of an ongoing audit. The BMV is also in the process of creating an internal audit team.

“It took us a long time to get here,” Abernathy said in an interview last month. “It’s not going to be solved overnight.”

Monday afternoon Pence responded to the Star’s report and new calls for an investigation.

“The independent audit that’s underway today has already resulted in us identifying overcharges to motorists and taxpayers,” Pence said in an interview. “We’ve refunded those in real time and we’re going to continue that review, and working with members of the General Assembly to reform the laws in a way that can assure that when fees are assessed at the BMV they’re assessed in an appropriate and adequate way.”

To date more than $60 million is being returned to Hoosier taxpayers. The ongoing audit by accounting firm BKD is expected to be complete in May.

Levin said more depositions of former BMV officials are expected in the next month as part of another ongoing class action lawsuit.