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Former Muncie Mayor To Plead Guilty To Federal Corruption Charge

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Crime, Government, Local News
Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler reads from a city press release. (Photo: Stephanie Wiechmann / File Photo)

A former Muncie mayor will plead guilty in federal court to taking a bribe for a city contract.

In late 2019, then-Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler was arrested by the FBI while still heading the city.  He was charged with one count of “theft of government services” for, according to the federal investigation, accepting a $5,000 bribe to steer city work to a specific construction firm.

Tyler’s indictment came as part of a years-long federal corruption probe of his administration.  Seven people in total have been indicted in the investigation.

Tyler was scheduled to stand trial in July, but this week his lawyer submitted a plea agreement.  A hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The federal charge carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.  The agreement did not specify a sentence, which is up to a judge.  It does say Tyler will not be fined, but will “pay restitution.”

More Into The Investigation

The FBI first searched Muncie City Hall in January 2017.  The next month, the agency arrested  Tyler’s appointed building commissioner, Craig Nichols, and indicted him on 34 counts of wire fraud, theft, and money laundering.  Federal officials say Nichols defrauded the city of Muncie out of nearly $300,000 by billing for fake house demolitions and inflated asbestos inspections through companies he owned, using his position as building commissioner to do so.  He plead guilty to two counts and is serving a two-year sentence.

In Nichols’ indictment documents, a “Muncie Official A” is referenced.  At the time, city attorney Megan Quirk confirmed that meant Tyler.

“On that it says a Muncie city official who appointed the building commissioner,” said Quirk in 2017.  “That is the mayor, because he would make that appointment.”

Read More: Sentencing Documents Tell Story Of Muncie Building Commissioner’s Deception

In July 2019, Tyler’s appointed head of the Muncie Sanitary District, Nikki Grigsby, was arrested.  The US Attorney’s office says Grigsby used her authority to approve contractors to steer work to a local businessman’s company, in exchange for kickbacks.  She and the businessman were indicted on several similar federal charges, including wire fraud, making false statements, and falsification of documents in a federal investigation.  She has also reached a deal to plead guilty.