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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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