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Feds charge 5 in Indy Land Bank kickback scheme

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Federal prosecutors have charged two Indianapolis city employees in the Department of Metropolitan Development and three others in a scheme involving cash kickbacks on the sale of properties in the Indy Land Bank.

The indictment, which includes eight wire fraud and bribery counts, alleges city employees Reginald Walton, 29, the Land Bank's director, and John Hawkins, 27, a senior project manager for the DMD and a former special assistant to Mayor Greg Ballard, participated in the scheme.

Also charged: David Johnson, 46, executive director of the Indiana Minority AIDS Coalition; Randall Sargent, 57, owner and president of New Day Residential Development; and Aaron Reed, 35, a friend of Walton's.

The five defendants each face three wire fraud charges. Each charge carries a potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Walton also is charged with three counts of bribery on an organization that receives federal funds, each of which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sargent and Reed are facing one count each of bribery.

The suspects made their first appearance in federal court midday Tuesday, where U.S. Magistrate Judge Denise K. LaRue read them the charges and explained their rights. The defendants were released pending trial.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett is scheduled to discuss the charges at a 1:30 p.m. press conference.

FBI agents arrested the men and raided the City-County Building on Tuesday morning, as IBJ first reported. The IBJ is a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer. The moves were the culmination of a months-long federal investigation into alleged corrupt practices at the Indy Land Bank, a municipal agency that handles the disposition of vacant and tax-delinquent homes that fall into city hands.

State sales-disclosure records show Sargent's company bought at least 23 properties from the Land Bank since May 2012. The disclosures show a price of $1,000 apiece for 15 properties and $2,500 each for eight more.

New Day Residential lists its headquarters address as 238 S. Meridian St., Suite 201, above the Claddagh Irish Pub.

Walton was prominently featured in an IBJ investigative story in November 2012 that raised questions about the city's sale of taxpayer-owned properties to not-for-profit groups eager to exploit a loophole allowing low-priced sales without public bids.

Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Mayor Greg Ballard, declined to comment before the afternoon announcement.

An FBI tactical vehicle pulled up to the north entrance of the City-County Building shortly after 8 a.m. It remained there late Tuesday morning, as agents carried out boxes of documents from the Land Bank.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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