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AG targets East Chicago corruption

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The Indiana Attorney General's Office wants a federal court to order an audit of East Chicago that might reveal the need for more oversight of a city that's endured a racketeering vote-buying enterprise carried out by a former mayor and multiple city officials.

Filing a memorandum on damages and injunctive relief in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, late Tuesday, a Chicago attorney acting as a special deputy attorney general for the state seeks the audit in the 5-year-old case against former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick and top aides. The defendants have now all settled and admitted civil liability for at least a portion of the $25 million in public funds used in a vote-buying scheme a decade ago.

Using the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Patrick Collins, special deputy attorney general - on behalf of Attorney General Greg Zoeller - is proposing that the State Board of Accounts conduct an expedited audit of city government to "review, assess, and report" to the court its findings as to the full economic damages caused mostly by a "Sidewalks for Votes" scandal, and any injunctive relief or remedy that may be warranted. The audit would review the current financial conditions of East Chicago, the amounts and purposes of casino funds disbursed, and any other structural or systemic problems in the city.

The brief stops short of asking for a specific resolution but indicates there is a range of civil remedies available to the court once the agency's audit is complete. Options used in other cases and jurisdictions include asset forfeiture, as well as the appointment of a trustee or constructive trust to monitor and oversee the business involved in racketeering.

If a receiver or trustee method was used and the State Board of Accounts continued in an auditing role, it would essentially mean the agency and the presiding judge would be guarantors of public confidence by monitoring the city's financial decision-making.

While the brief doesn't allege any corruption by the current administration, it says the current city government and members of the public are still burdened by the pattern of corruption that's existed in East Chicago through the years during the Pastrick administration.

Senior Judge James T. Moody in the Northern District of Indiana's Hammond Division will consider this request and hear testimony about the proposal during a hearing at 9:30 a.m. CST June 9.

Former Attorney General Steve Carter launched the suit in 2004 against East Chicago's former Democratic Mayor Robert Pastrick, multiple city officials, and contractors on claims that the group dubbed the "Sidewalk Six" misspent public money on a scheme to pave sidewalks and driveways for election votes. That eventually led to a federal indictment of more than a dozen of Pastrick's administration officials and contractors. This civil suit sought to recoup the misspent money, and the Attorney General's Office reported that most defendants have settled and about $1.2 million has been collected from them. The state has also obtained another $18 million in default judgment orders against other defendants.

But defendants Pastrick, James Fife III, and Timothy Raykovich were the holdouts. Raykovich settled with the state May 13 - a week before the other two decided to not defend themselves in court - and the charges against Raykovich were dismissed with prejudice. Pastrick and Fife officially waived their right to a jury trial May 26. Judge Moody entered default judgments Tuesday against the pair, as well as another co-defendant Frank Kollintzas, a former city councilor who has since been convicted in the related criminal case; authorities believe Kollintzas has fled the country.

Zoeller has said previously he doesn't expect to recover the $25 million - or any larger amount including any possible treble damages - in this case but instead hopes to use this suit to show how deep the East Chicago corruption went and find a way to restore public confidence, locally and statewide.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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