Corruption heads southeast

May 29, 2009
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Is Delaware County becoming the new Lake County in terms of political scandals and corruption? There’s a belief (which is sometimes substantiated) that Lake County doesn’t play by the rules when it comes to politics: voting scandals, unethical mayors and elected officials, things of that nature.

Now it appears to be Delaware County’s turn to rival Lake County for corruption issues based on incidents within the last couple of years.

The county had a judge resign from the bench shortly after the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission initiated an investigation of his business interests and judicial obligations. His resignation suspended the investigation. (In an ironic twist, the judge took over the bench in 1998 for another corrupt judge who had resigned after being charged with all sorts of corrupt behavior by the Judicial Qualifications Commission, including a sexual relationship with a client in lieu of monetary payments and that he forged her divorce decree before becoming judge, and that he continued working in private practice after serving as a full-time pro tempore judge.)

Then there’s the hoopla surrounding a lawyer who is a defense attorney and former prosecutor. He faced a charge of conspiracy to commit bribery of a witness in a criminal case. (The lawyer was found not guilty in March.)

The current county prosecutor faces disciplinary charges that he violated four professional conduct rules stemming from his role as a private attorney on civil forfeiture matters related to the criminal defendants he handled as deputy prosecutor on behalf the state. (A special prosecutor recently cleared him of criminal wrongdoing in his handling of the drug forfeiture cases).

There’s been an ongoing battle for Mayor of Muncie – which involves 19 absentee ballots deemed invalid – which the Court of Appeals just ruled on Thursday. (Affirming Sharon McShurley is the mayor.)

And yesterday, a Delaware County grand jury indicted a Muncie City Council member and firefighter on nine Class D felony counts of illegally receiving a ballot.

It used to be that Lake County was named whenever the topic of voter fraud came up, but perhaps people need to start citing Delaware County.

I know corruption can and probably does happen in every county in Indiana, but you have to figure there’s a reason why certain counties gain the reputations they do. Hopefully these are isolated incidents and not a reflection of the state of politics or the legal system in Delaware County.

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