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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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