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Trial over residency of Wabash Trustee Jennifer Teising continues

Wabash Township resident Jamie Roth standing outside of the Tippecanoe Courthouse Tuesday (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Wabash Township Trustee Jennifer Teising’s trial continued Tuesday, as the state called witnesses with closer personal ties to the defendant.

Teising is charged with 21 counts of theft for taking her trustee salary while not a legal resident of the township, charges that she denies.

On Monday, prosecutors showed phone records indicating Teising spent her time between June of 2020 and March of 2021 between Florida, Anderson, Indiana, and Greater Lafayette.

Former employees of Teising were called to testify Tuesday. Amie Mullikin, a former office manager for Teising, told the court the trustee had discussed an intent to move to Florida. Teising had been to Florida before, and Mullikin said Teising told her she was “happier in Florida” and wasn’t happy in local politics.

“We even joked about her becoming a scuba instructor,” Mullikin said.

Prosecutors also called a potential employee of Teising. In November of 2020 – while Teising was in Florida – she interviewed Julie Gregory for an office aide position over Skype.

Gregory told prosecutors that “as a retired person”, she understood that what Teising was doing was “snowbirding.”

“Was Teising retired?” prosecutors asked.

“No,” Gregory admitted. But she then added that many people worked remotely during the pandemic and she “didn’t think anything of it.”

In court, Teising’s defense has argued that her voter registration and mailing address have been maintained at a 132 Knox Drive address in West Lafayette despite long trips around and outside of the state.

Tuesday, the state called Dr. Greg Michalski - a Purdue professor and ex-boyfriend to Teising - who owns the property at that address and rented a portion of the house to Teising at her request.

Michalski testified that he terminated the lease in January after West Lafayette city officials notified him his house was not a legal rental property. He said Teising continues to live at the property rent-free.

Prosecutors underlined that Teising sometimes avoided being in the house at the same time as Michalski because she felt he wasn’t taking enough COVID-19 precautions.

The state also brought two of Teising’s friends from Anderson, Indiana to the stand: Amber and Andrew Jones. Teising spent long periods of time in her camper on their property throughout the pandemic.

Andrew and Amber testified that, during the early days of the pandemic, they became a “family of choice” with Teising and that she was “like family” during a time when “everybody was scared.”

Amber also testified that receiving subpoenas related to the case had put a strain on their relationship, and Teising no longer stays on the property.

“Have you missed seeing Jennifer?” the defense asked.

“Yes,” Amber replied.

Michalski and the Jones family agreed that despite her long trips to Florida, they had no reason to believe she would not return to Greater Lafayette.

The trial will resume for a final witness on Wednesday.