For years, Rhondalyn Cornett stole from dues-paying teachers. She’s now getting an unexpected lesson in humility. On July 22, Cornett, former president of the Indianapolis Education Association (IEA), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana with one count of wire fraud in a scheme in which she embezzled more than $100,000 from the union, an affiliate of the Indiana State Teachers Association and the National Education Association. She then pleaded guilty. The actions follow a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and Indianapolis metro police.
Rhondalyn Cornett, now 54, a resident of Indianapolis, served as president of the union during November 2013-November 2018. She also had a couple of lucrative side hustles. According to prosecutors, Cornett wrote checks to herself from a union bank account and used a union debit card in order to withdraw cash and pay for personal expenses. When identified as the culprit, she resigned her union post. She faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler summarized the outcome: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting individuals, like Cornett, who abuse their positions of public trust. Teachers depend on the union dues they’re paid from their paychecks in order for the union to represent their best interests.”