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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. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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