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AG opposes East Chicago settlement terms

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Indiana's Attorney General opposes a proposed settlement between the city of East Chicago and a developer regarding riverboat casino revenues because it would grant additional money to that developer at a time when the state is suing to open up the financial books.

East Chicago Mayor George Pabey announced Thursday he negotiated a settlement with East Chicago Second Century Inc. for all future riverboat casino revenues that would have otherwise been paid to Second Century to go directly to the city. East Chicago sued in 2005 to undo a local development agreement entered into by previous Mayor Robert Pastrick that gave a cut of casino money to the for-profit developer - approximately $1.5 million annually.

In 2007, the attorney general intervened, filing a counterclaim and cross-claim seeking imposition of a constructive trust for public benefit and an accounting of the money paid to Second Century. The trial court dismissed the AG's claims and the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed. The Indiana Supreme Court last year reversed and remanded for further proceedings, allowing the case to proceed.

That led to the AG last summer requesting in a separate civil suit against former Mayor Pastrick that a federal judge, as part of an ongoing federal racketeering case, allow the state to look into the developer's finances and what has been given to officials in East Chicago. Last year, the nonprofit organization Foundations of East Chicago, which also received casino money and is a party to all this litigation, filed a motion to intervene in the federal case. U.S. Senior Judge James Moody hasn't issued a ruling yet in that case.

In a statement released Thursday, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he opposed any result that would allow additional funds be given to Second Century, which has refused any public review of how it spent more than $16 million it received over 10 years. Zoeller is not involved in the settlement.

The issue for the attorney general is opening the for-profit developer's books and providing an accounting so that the public can see how the money has been spent.

"Forward-looking disclosure is not enough; there must be disclosure going back to the founding of Second Century, created by the Pastrick organization during the period that is subject of our RICO investigation," Zoeller said.

In addition to Second Century relinquishing its claims to future revenues paid from the riverboat, the proposed settlement allows for the city and Second Century to jointly petition the court to distribute funds - approximately $8 to 10 million - held in escrow since the beginning of the litigation. Of the escrowed funds, 54 percent would go to the city and 46 percent would go to Second Century. The settlement agreement will be submitted to the East Chicago Common Council on Monday for approval.

As a result of this litigation, the attorney general supports language in Senate Bill 405 in the General Assembly this session that would create transparency for local development agreement companies and LDA nonprofits that receive casino money. If passed, the bill would require either a for-profit or nonprofit LDA to publicly disclose to the state how it spends the money and who is awarded the funding. SB 405 is currently under consideration by the full House.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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