Three faced money troubles

Daily Reporter staff reports

GREENFIELD — Three candidates running for local office have faced money problems, court records show.

Mark Lozier, a Republican running for Hancock County council at-large, was the subject of at least eight civil lawsuits related to his past business before he was forced into involuntary bankruptcy in 2008, court records show. Coroner candidate Dan Devoy filed for bankruptcy in 2014. Commissioner candidate John Jessup has unpaid property taxes, which has led the county to garnish his wages, county records show. He also was sued by SpringLeaf Financial Services for unpaid debt, according to court records.

Ahead of Tuesday’s primary election, the candidates explained their financial hardships to the Daily Reporter.

Lozier and his business, Integrated Claims Solutions, were named in at least eight civil lawsuits in Hamilton County, where he formerly lived, beginning in late 2007 when the company launched a new subdivision in Noblesville, a project that ultimately failed.

Lozier was forced into involuntary bankruptcy — a process by which creditors petition a court to start the bankruptcy process after a debtor fails to pay — in 2008, with approximately $303,000 in debts owed, court records show. During the three-year course of the proceedings, Lozier was ordered to sell property and cars, including a 2006 Chevrolet Suburban, 1974 Porsche 916 and a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette, to repay his debts, court records show.

His company ran into money troubles during a time when many business owners were facing financial pressures under the collapsing economy, he said. He was forced into bankruptcy but was able to work his way out of it, he said.

“One thing led to another, and it spiraled,” he said. “It was a learning experience for me.”

Devoy, a Republican, said he filed for bankruptcy in 2014 after his wife was involved in a car accident that left her seriously injured. The couple was facing more than $160,000 in debts, bankruptcy records show.

She couldn’t work, needed to see multiple medical specialists and underwent several surgeries, including one to put a metal rod in her spine, which cost roughly $160,000, Devoy said.

With hefty medical bills looming, Devoy said he took security jobs to help pay off the debts in addition to working as an investigator for Hancock County Community Corrections.

But it wasn’t enough, Devoy said.

“It totally devastated us,” he said.

In May 2014, a civil lawsuit was filed against the couple by Eagle Accounts, an Indianapolis-based collection group, court records show. In November of the same year, they filed for bankruptcy.

The Devoys kept to a payment plan, and in March 2015, their bankruptcy case was discharged, meaning they are no longer required to pay off the debts, and the case against them was closed. The couple remains in good financial standing, Devoy said.

Despite his personal hardships, Devoy said he believes he’s the best candidate to oversee the coroner’s $57,000 budget, which covers autopsies, the officeholder’s salary and deputy coroner pay.

He’s always been responsible with his money, he said. The situation that landed him in financial trouble was personal and out of his control, and his wife’s health and safety were more important to him than anything else, he said.

Devoy said he knows how to keep a budget in line, even when funds are tight.

The coroner’s office has struggled in recent years to work within its budget, often needing the county council to allocate emergency funding to cover more costly line items, including autopsies — about $2,000 each — and the paychecks of deputy coroners — $100 per death investigation.

If elected, Devoy promises to get control of the office’s spending by conducting death investigations himself rather than relying on deputies and only paying for autopsies when absolutely necessary, he said.

Jessup, a Republican who’s running for the District 1 seat on the Hancock County Board of Commissioners, said his money troubles in recent years have made him better understand the challenges his constituents might face.

Jessup was sued in March 2015 by SpringLeaf Financial Services for a $6,625 loan.

The candidate, who is currently serving his third term on the Hancock County Council, also fell behind on $600 of property taxes in 2015, which has led officials to begin garnishing the monthly earnings he receives for serving on the council, according to financial records.

In November 2014, Jessup was laid off from his job and remained unemployed for seven months, he explained.

Shortly after he found work, his wife lost her job, leaving the couple with thin margins to cover everyday expenses for themselves and their six children, Jessup said.

Jessup is now making payments on his debt and said his personal finances aren’t an indication of his capability to responsibly manage taxpayer dollars.

“If anything, it’s brought things into focus,” he said. “Times are tough, and that’s exactly why I’m running for office.”

Jessup said his misfortunes have given him perspective of how even small fluctuations in cash flow can uproot someone’s finances.

When considering a tax hike for county expenses, Jessup said he’ll keep his constituents’ best interests at heart.