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State Police expand probe of Zionsville police chief

BYLINE: Robert Annis
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Zionsville, IN

Latest allegations involve misuse of evidence

Zionsville Police Chief Rick Dowden is being investigated on new allegations of misappropriating thousands of dollars of potential evidence money and selling a sports car that was evidence in a criminal case.

Sgt. Anthony Emery of the Indiana State Police said Friday that the investigation of Dowden -- which was expected to be completed by the middle of last month -- is continuing.

Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer also confirmed that State Police investigators have asked him to convene a grand jury in the Dowden case in the near future. After they complete their investigation, Meyer said, he'll seek a special prosecutor to take over the case.

Dowden placed himself on paid administrative leave last month, after earlier allegations surfaced against him regarding misappropriated evidence and misconduct.

In the latest allegations, a Zionsville estate broker, Brian McCall, said money he was supposed to have received in a vehicle deal gone bad is missing.

McCall said he bought a 2007 Nissan 350 Z and a 2009 Ford Flex in May 2009, intending to resell the vehicles locally.

However, when McCall tried to sell both vehicles to Pearson Ford, the dealership discovered the vehicles had counterfeit vehicle identification numbers and had been stolen from out of state.

After McCall called Zionsville police, he arranged for a meeting with the alleged seller, a man who went by the alias Seannacy McNeil, arrived in a 2008 Ford Explorer that authorities said was stolen.

McCall said Dowden told him immediately after McNeil's arrest that police had recovered $25,000 from McNeil, but then later told him they hadn't recovered anything. Weeks later, when McCall pressed the issue with Dowden, he was told they'd recovered only $4,500.

"I'm out a lot of money from this deal," McCall said Friday, adding that when he tried to recover the money, Dowden told him he couldn't have it back because it involved stolen property.

"It's my word versus theirs. And with all the shenanigans going on in that department, I don't think I'll ever get it back," McCall said.

The Explorer and Flex were returned to their rightful owners, but the Nissan remained with the Police Department as evidence.

Zionsville Town Councilman Art Harris said people began seeing Dowden driving the car around town.

"He didn't make a secret of it," Harris said.

Authorities moved to claim the Nissan as an asset forfeiture last year, but before a judge could act on the petition, the car -- which was still considered evidence in a pending criminal case -- was sold for more than $9,000 at an auto auction in November.

Glenn Greenberg, senior public relations consultant for Liberty Mutual, confirmed that the company signed over the title of the sports car to the Police Department but didn't have any additional details.

Meyer, the county prosecutor, said missing a key piece of evidence, such as a vehicle, could present a problem for the prosecution in such a case. McNeil is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 17 to face three counts of auto theft.

McCall doesn't face any charges.

Dowden also does not face charges, but he is still under investigation by State Police and Zionsville officials.

James Voyles, Dowden's attorney, declined to comment on the case.

State Police began investigating Dowden late last year, after an unnamed department employee claimed to have seen Dowden and a Zionsville police detective take a 50-inch Toshiba plasma TV from police headquarters and load it into Dowden's city-owned SUV. A search was conducted at Dowden's home in December.

In a probable-cause affidavit, Dowden is accused of having drawn and waved a cocked and loaded .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol at a meeting with about 12 officers at headquarters last year.

Dowden, who has served as police chief since 2007, went on leave shortly after State Police began their investigation.

Contact Star reporter Robert Annis at (317) 444-6031. Follow him at

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