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7th Circuit rules on garnished 'Sidewalk Six' money

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One of East Chicago's so-called "Sidewalk Six" convicts is the subject of a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling today, though the case more accurately centers on the $25 million in restitution he was ordered to repay and whether those garnishments should be considered marital assets during his subsequent divorce proceedings.

In U.S. v. Frank Kollintzas, Appeal of: Joanna Kollintzas, No. 06-2034, the appellate court affirmed a decision by U.S. District Chief Judge Robert Miller in South Bend that Joanna Kollintzas did not prove her property interest under Indiana law and the court properly granted a government motion to release the funds for garnishment.

Frank Kollintzas was convicted in November 2004 of converting money from East Chicago in the so-called Sidewalk Six scandal, which involved political allies of long-time Democratic Mayor Robert Pastrick who spent more than $25 million to lay free concrete and make improvements to properties in exchange for votes in the 1999 primary election. The criminal case surfaced in 2003, and eventually 12 city officials and contractors - including then-city councilor Frank Kollintzas - were sentenced to prison for taking part in the scheme. Kollintzas disappeared after trial and didn't appear at sentencing; he has not been found.

After being sentenced in absentia and ordered to repay the $25 million, the garnishment proceedings began in federal court and his wife Joanna subsequently filed for divorce in state court. She obtained from the state court an ex-parte temporary restraining order prohibiting the garnishee defendants from transferring any funds, but the District Court ultimately determined the government's liens relating to Frank Kollintzas' property were superior to her claim to martial property because "the liens were perfected before she filed for divorce," and she failed to specify how much income she had contributed to the "marital pot."

Circuit Judges Diane S. Sykes and her colleagues agreed, writing, "Her claim that she has a presumptive right to half of the marital property in her divorce action under Indiana law is subject to the government's previously perfected liens, which encumber the Assets to the extent they are part of the marital estate. Mrs. Kollintzas asserted a generalized marital property interest in the district court, but made no effort to establish the amounts (if any) she contributed to the various Assets subject to garnishment. Accordingly, the district court properly concluded that Mrs. Kollintzas failed to establish a claim to the Assets superior to that of the government."

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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