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AG turns over $331k to East Chicago in RICO case

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Racketeering litigation that began in 2004 against former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick ended Thursday as Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller turned over more than $331,000 the state collected from Pastrick and co-defendants to the city.

Zoeller pressed a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization case against Pastrick and other former city officials involved in a “sidewalks for votes” scheme that alleged the squandering $24 million in taxpayer funds. The case originated under former Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter and resulted in the 2009 judgment of $108 million against Pastrick and co-defendants. It marked the first time a U.S. city administration had been found to be a criminal enterprise under federal racketeering laws.

Funds Zoeller turned over to East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland Thursday as a partial payment included more than $145,416 liquidated from Pastrick after a bankruptcy court ruled his assets were not exempt from the judgment in the RICO case. Co-defendants provided $186,250 awarded in settlements and judgments.

“The loss of public trust is the legacy of the Pastrick regime, one that will take time to restore. In the end, our legal actions once again show that no one is above the law,” Zoeller said during a news conference. “Today marks a milestone in restoring public trust, and I salute Mayor Copeland for striving to have an ethical administration that seeks to earn the trust of the people.”

Copeland said the lessons of the Pastrick era won’t be repeated. “While history may record where we have been, the future will reveal that we have accepted our past.  But it will not determine our future.”

Pastrick was mayor of East Chicago for 33 years.

“I’m glad that the attorney general went after these funds, and I’m glad to see they are coming back to the residents of East Chicago,” said Lenny Franciski, president of the East Chicago Common Council.

The AG’s office in court complaints noted Pastrick’s administration operated through patronage to perpetuate an organization often called “the Pastrick machine.” To boost his re-election chances in the 1999 mayoral primary, Pastrick and his allies engaged in a scheme that spent $24 million on a pre-election sidewalk-paving and tree-trimming operation – some of it on private properties – to curry favor with voters. The massive expenditures depleted the city treasury.

Thursday's return of money to the city marks the end of the attorney general's office's direct involvement in this portion of the case.

In a separate East Chicago corruption case, the AG’s office argued last month that a Marion County judge should find principals of Second Century in contempt for failing to comply with discovery on what happened to $16 million in riverboat casino revenue it received under a financial arrangement unique among Indiana gaming operations.

Second Century’s principals Michael A. Pannos, a former Indiana Democratic Party chairman, and Thomas S. Cappas, a Lake County Democratic Party activist, were longtime allies of Pastrick, and the casino license was granted during Pastrick’s tenure.
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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