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Asset freeze thawing for former Indiana library director

The former director of a small Northwest Indiana city’s library system can at least now pay for gas, food and other living expenses.

Manuel “Manny” Montalvo had all of his assets frozen last week by a Northwest Indiana judge at the request of the Indiana Attorney General’s office. Following a review of an audit of East Chicago’s library system by the Indiana state of Board of Accounts, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Montalvo made numerous unauthorized expenditures while library director, including trips to the Puerto Rican Gala Day in New York City and a conference in Puerto Rico. The attorney general also cited repairs made to Montalvo’s car.

In all, Zoeller is seeking repayment for some $12,000 in questionable expenses. Zoeller says a public accountability law passed by Indiana lawmakers in 2009 gives him the authority to seek assets to secure repayment. He had referred to that law when he froze all of Montalvo’s assets.

But a Lake County judge agreed Wednesday to allow Montalvo to use at least some personal money to pay for living expenses. Zoeller’s office agreed.

The agreement also allows Montalvo to sell property, such as a home, but the proceeds will be initially deposited into an escrow account until the lawsuit with the attorney general is settled. This week, Montalvo filed his own lawsuit against the very library board that he had once worked for. He said the board wrongfully canned him last week, following the findings of a state audit.

Last year, a Cook County court convicted Montalvo for misdemeanor charges of battery and disorderly conduct following a Chicago Cubs game.

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