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Feds indict East Chicago mayor, former official

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Another East Chicago mayor is now being charged in the federal court for alleged misuse of public money, and defense attorneys say they'll go to trial to fight the charges.

Acting U.S. Attorney David Capp for the Northern District of Indiana Wednesday filed a grand jury indictment in the Hammond courthouse, charging East Chicago Mayor George Pabey and former city engineering department leader Jose Camacho with conspiring to divert city money and resources toward improving a house that Pabey owns with his daughter in Gary's Miller Beach neighborhood. Camacho is also charged with trying to persuade other city workers to lie to federal investigators about work the laborers allegedly did on the house while they were on the clock for the city, the indictment says.

In the 10-page indictment, prosecutors allege that Pabey used public money to do work on a Gary home bought as a foreclosure in late 2007. The indictment says that between late 2007 and August 2008, a crew of four "skilled laborers" supervised by Camacho worked on the home by pouring concrete, painting, and installing new appliances and furnishings. Camacho's accused of spending more than $5,000 in taxpayer money on materials for the project, and he also drew on an engineering department account. Once FBI agents starting investigating, Camacho told the other workers to either keep quiet or lie to the agents, according to the indictment.

The indictment accuses Pabey of two counts: a conspiracy charge and a charge that specifically accuses him of illegally diverting the city resources. Camacho faces the same charges and two counts of witness tampering.

East Chicago spokesman Damian Rico issued a statement Wednesday, saying the mayor did "nothing improper or illegal," that the allegations are false, and that Pabey has fully cooperated with federal investigators.

"I am shocked beyond expression that these allegations have been made by the government," Pabey said in the statement. "I will not be distracted by this event in continuing to conduct the business of my office on behalf of the people of East Chicago."

Gary attorney Fred Work and Merrillville attorney Scott King, a former Gary mayor, are serving as defense counsel.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich set a signature bond at $20,000 for both Pabey and Camacho, and lawyers stated to the media at the courthouse they anticipated going to trial.

Pabey took over as mayor in 2005 after outsting longtime political force Robert Pastrick in an Indiana Supreme Court-ordered special election. Pastrick went on to be the subject of a civil racketeering suit that's still pending before U.S. Senior Judge James Moody in Hammond. The Indiana Attorney General's Office declined to speak about that ongoing litigation, or what effect this federal case could have on that litigation.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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