On off days, a former Indiana DOC staffer admitted to using a state-owned vehicle for private use

A former employee of the Indiana Department of Correction has recently agreed to pay a fine of nearly $5,000. This comes after allegations were made against him for violating the Indiana State Code. The violation in question involves the misuse of his state-owned vehicle for personal purposes when he was not on duty.

The Office of the Indiana Inspector General has revealed that Joseph Mulinaro, a former employee of the Department of Corrections (DOC), was found to have misused a state-owned vehicle provided to him for work-related activities.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation into the allegation on March 20, earlier this year. The investigation focused on Mulinaro’s use of his work vehicle, prompted by the Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC found that Mulinaro had been using the state-owned vehicle in violation of the Limited Personal Use of State Property/Resources policy, which was approved in 2015.

According to the investigative report by the OIG, this policy allows DOC employees to use state equipment for non-state business purposes only if the usage is occasional, brief, and not feasible during the employee’s personal time.

During the investigation conducted by the DOC, Mulinaro was questioned about his use of the state-owned vehicle for personal purposes during weekends when he was not on duty. In response, Mulinaro claimed that he had no knowledge of the fact that he was not permitted to use the vehicle during his off time.


According to the investigation, the former DOC employee claimed that he considered it a “perk of the job.”

According to the OIG, Mulinaro received a suspension without pay on February 21, 2023. He ultimately chose to resign the following month on March 15.

During their investigation, OIG investigators thoroughly examined various documents and records. These included the DOC’s internal investigation files, as well as the emails that Mulinaro had both sent and received. In addition, they also reviewed records related to Mulinaro’s previous employment and the reimbursement rates that were applicable during Mulinaro’s tenure.

The IOG stated that they also conducted interviews with multiple witnesses during their investigation.

The IOG investigators quickly discovered that Mulinaro joined the DOC on November 4, 2019. Initially, he was hired as a salesperson for Indiana Correctional Industries (ICI) and was assigned to work in various counties in northern Indiana.

Mulinaro took on the crucial role of visiting county jails, schools, and universities in his assigned area. His main responsibility was to deliver and distribute service equipment used to dispense chemical products provided by the ICI.

Indiana Correctional Industries is defined by the Indiana Department of Correction (IOG) as a division that sells products crafted by individuals who are incarcerated in DOC institutions.

The IOG highlighted that Mulinaro was provided with a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan during his time as a sales representative, to facilitate his extensive state business travel. The vehicle was fitted with a GPS system which kept a record of mileage, hours of use, and idle time.

During the investigation conducted by the IOG, Mulinaro’s supervisor was interviewed and confirmed that state employees were prohibited from using their vehicles for personal reasons during their off days. The supervisor acknowledged that employees were only allowed to make brief stops with the provided vehicles if they were returning home from a work-related activity or event.

According to the supervisor, Mulinaro received instructions on the guidelines regarding the use of assigned vehicles for work-related travel during his orientation period and annual computer-based training events. These guidelines are specifically for state employees.

According to the investigation conducted by the IOG, the supervisor had informed Mulinaro that the vehicle was designated for “state use only.”

The IOG investigators interviewed various staff members from the Indiana Department of Administration. During the investigation, the IDOA staff cooperated by providing records, including a GPS summary, regarding Mulinaro’s vehicle use. These records covered the period since Mulinaro was hired as a DOC employee in 2019.

Between November 2019 and February 2023, Mulinaro was found to have driven his state vehicle for a total of 11,018.5 miles on weekends, without any work-related commitments, according to the IOG.

In addition, the IOG determined that Mulinaro traveled a distance of 1,099.5 miles in his vehicle during his non-working holiday.

The former DOC employee drove a total of 12,118 miles, according to the calculations.

According to the IOG’s calculations, Mulinaro’s actions resulted in a loss of $4,927.50 for the state. They determined this by multiplying the total miles he drove on weekends and holidays by the IDOA reimbursement rates for those periods.

The investigation conducted by the IOG found that Mulinaro had violated Indiana Code 4-2-6-17 by improperly using his state-owned vehicle while not on duty.

According to the investigative report by the IOG, the Code’s state property rule explicitly prohibits state employees from using state property for anything other than official state business. However, there may be exceptions to this rule if there is a specific written policy or regulation from the agency, department, or institution that permits such use.

The Indiana State Ethics Commission reviewed the OIG’s findings in an executive session on Oct. 12, 2023. Following their review, the commission determined that there was probable cause to file an official ethics complaint against Mulinaro. This complaint is in relation to the alleged violation of the Code’s rule on the use of state property.

According to the IOG, Mulinaro confessed to misusing the state-owned vehicle, which goes against the Code’s state property rule. As a result, he has agreed to repay $4,927 to the DOC on November 27.

According to the investigative report by the OIG, the agreement specified that the funds would be repaid through monthly payments of $125 until the entire amount is settled.

On December 14th, the Ethics Commission officially closed the investigation after approving the settlement payment plan and amount.

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