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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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