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Bankruptcy delays collection effort

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

Former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick has filed for bankruptcy, putting on hold the state’s attempt to seize his property to help pay off the $108 million he owes from a civil racketeering default judgment against him.

On Dec. 17, the former mayor filed a notice for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, just one day after the state AG obtained a writ of execution allowing federal marshals to seize his home and property in northern Indiana. U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Nuechterlein in Hammond had granted a request for the seizure of personal property, art, bonds, and jewelry, but he withdrew that writ following the bankruptcy filing.

This is the latest development in a long-standing case against the former mayor and other East Chicago officials, who were a part of a sidewalks-for-votes fraud scheme that involved the use of $24 million in city money to pave patios, sidewalks, driveways, and remove trees in exchange for 1999 primary votes. Pastrick and two former top aides were found guilty last year of running a corrupt enterprise under federal racketeering statutes, and a federal judge in March ordered a default judgment totaling more than $108 million.

In his bankruptcy filing, Pastrick says his assets are valued from $100,000 to $500,000 and his debt is more than $100 million. The only creditors he lists are the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and the Indianapolis law firm of Rubin & Levin that’s representing the state in its case against Pastrick.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller contends the judgment should not be dischargeable in bankruptcy and that this is just another attempt by Pastrick to avoid accountability and stall the collection process.

A meeting of Pastrick creditors is scheduled for Jan. 25, according to the federal court docket.

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