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      Ward case dismissed

      A Federal criminal indictment against former Ottumwa Transit Authority Director Pam Ward has been dismissed.

      Chief Judge James Gritzner signed the order on Monday, July 15 at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office.

      The order says the case has been dismissed without prejudice.

      Ward was awaiting a re-trial on charges that she had lied to U.S. Department of Transportation officials during an investigation into O-T-A ridership numbers.

      In June, a federal jury could not reach a verdict after a week long trial. During that trial, prosecutors argued that Ward had intentionally inflated the number of riders on O-T-A buses in order to secure additional funding for the agency.

      Ward's defense contended that she had estimated the number of riders using standard industry practices, when she had been unable to get reliable numbers from her drivers.

      Ward's troubles began in May of 2011, when an audit by the state of Iowa showed irregularities, including what appeared to be inflated ridership numbers.

      Ward was fired from her position in the aftermath of that audit, and it was during the ensuing investigation by U.S. DOT officials, that Ward was alleged to have made the false statements that became the basis of the four felony counts against her.