Indiana mayor arrested by FBI in corruption probe

Indiana mayor arrested by FBI in corruption probe
City of Muncie via CNN
Dennis Tyler, mayor of Muncie, Indiana

Dennis Tyler, the Democratic mayor of Muncie, Indiana, was indicted Monday on a charge of accepting a $5,000 bribe, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

Tyler accepted the bribe in exchange for awarding contracts to a company from Gaston, Indiana, that performs demolition, excavation and construction projects for Muncie, according to the indictment. The mayor faces up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted.

“Tyler not only betrayed the trust of his community, but violated federal law, and all in an effort to serve his own personal interests,” said Josh J. Minkler, acting US attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Authorities arrested Tyler, 76, at his home Monday morning, according to the FBI.

He is currently in FBI custody, according to Chris Bavender, spokeswoman with the FBI in Indianapolis. Tyler made a court appearance Monday afternoon in a federal courtroom in Indiana, a US Attorney’s office news release said.

CNN has reached out to Tyler’s attorney, but has not heard back.

Tyler’s arrest is part of a “multi-year and on-going investigation” by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service looking into the payment of kickbacks in exchange for public works projects and other corruption-related matters in Muncie, the release said.

Tyler’s administration has been under scrutiny for several years as investigators conducted a federal corruption probe, CNN affiliate WXIN reported. The Star Press first reported in 2016 that the FBI was investigating Muncie’s former building commissioner Craig Nichols and the Muncie Sanitary District for possible wrongdoing.

Nichols, who was appointed by Tyler, was charged in a 2017 federal indictment with wire fraud, money laundering and theft for allegedly fraudulently awarding contracts to his own private company, the US Attorney’s Office said.

The federal corruption-related investigation in Muncie has led to indictments against five other people, prosecutors have said. Earlier this year, Nichols pleaded guilty to two counts and was sentenced to two years in prison, court records show.

Tyler, who grew up in Muncie and worked as a line captain for the Muncie Fire Department, has led the city as mayor since 2012. He did not run for re-election earlier this month, and Republican Dan Ridenour was elected to take over as mayor in 2020.

Muncie, a city northeast of Indianapolis, has a population of about 70,000 people.