Former Indy teachers union president pleads guilty in embezzlement case, faces up to 20 years in prison

Rhondalyn Cornett

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The former president of the Indianapolis teachers union pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling more than $100,000 from the union.

Rhondalyn Cornett, 54, was the president of the Indianapolis Education Association (IEA), which represents teachers of Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). From November 2013 until her resignation in November 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice says Cornett wrote checks from the union’s bank account and used a union debit card for personal expenses and to withdraw cash.

Following Cornett’s resignation, Ronald Swann assumed the role of IEA president. The Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) took control of IEA’s financial operations and will continue to manage them until November 2020.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting individuals, like Cornett, who abuse their positions of public trust,” said U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler. “Teachers depend on the union dues they’ve paid from their paychecks in order for the union to represent their best interests.”

Cornett faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release after getting out of prison.

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to identify, arrest and prosecute anyone who participates in defrauding programs that benefit our public institutions,” said Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall. “This guilty plea comes as a result of the dedicated and tireless efforts of agents, analysts and prosecutors committed to holding accountable those who deliberately compromise the integrity of their public position for personal gain.”

The Indiana State Teachers Association issued this statement:

“Today’s announcement from the Department of Justice reinforces ISTA’s original findings of financial mismanagement. ISTA’s reporting of the misappropriation of funds led to these charges and demonstrates that ISTA and IEA are committed to protecting our members. I am pleased with the results and look forward to working with ISTA leadership and IEA members to continue our efforts in building the member-driven local organization that Indianapolis educators deserve.”

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