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Ex-prosecutor's official charged in gambling ring

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A former chief investigator for a western Indiana prosecutor faces official misconduct and other charges stemming from allegations that he protected a gambling ring from arrest.

James J. Counterman, 71, of Terre Haute, faces three counts of inducing an individual to commit professional gambling and three counts of official misconduct. He appeared Wednesday for an initial hearing.

The charges stem from allegations Counterman told operators of illegal poker games in Terre Haute that for a "price" they would not be prosecuted for illegal gambling activities, the Tribune-Star reported.

Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modisett fired Counterman as his chief investigator in December after learning of the gambling investigation.

Investigator Edward McHargue of the Indiana Gaming Commission said in a probable cause affidavit that the Counterman investigation began in October 2009 when someone reported his alleged actions to a commission agent at the riverboat casino in Evansville. That informant stated that he had previously operated an illegal poker game in Terre Haute and provided information about others who were operating illegal games at the time.

In February 2011, a confidential informant said Counterman "protected" gambling operators from prosecution. The case included occasions when conversations were recorded by investigators. In a June 2011 conversation, Counterman reportedly told the informant: "We got a list of everything that's going on in town. We know where every game is played. We've got license plate numbers of every person playing."

In another statement, Counterman said, "We are the ones who decide what, or if charges should be filed. So Billy wants to run a game, it's not legal. I told him he could. I don't care."

The probable cause affidavit also states Counterman sometimes accepted cash from people running gambling operations and checks as political contributions.

McHargue said "no evidence was developed that showed that the prosecutor (Modesitt) was aware of the representations that Counterman was making regarding Counterman's authority and/or ability to 'protect' individuals from criminal charges."

Vigo Superior Judge David Bolk said he would recuse himself from the case because of his past work with Counterman and that a special judge from another county likely would take over. Bolk scheduled a Sept. 9 hearing.

A message seeking comment was left for Counterman's attorney.

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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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