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Fraud victim files civil suit against ex-councilor

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An Indianapolis physician who lost $1.7 million in a fraud scheme orchestrated in part by former Democratic City-County Councilor Paul C. Bateman Jr. has sued Bateman and two associates in Marion Circuit Court.

The civil suit comes as a criminal trial stemming from the case begins in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Jury selection began Monday morning in the trial of co-defendant Manuel Gonzalez, 53, who is facing three counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.

Bateman, 58, pleaded guilty last month to 13 counts of money laundering and wire fraud. A third co-defendant, ringleader Michael Russell, 54, agreed to a plea deal a week earlier on 20 counts of wire fraud and money laundering.

The men are accused of persuading Dr. Arthur Sumrall to invest the money in their foundation and an ethanol-production business they said would fund it, but instead spent the money on personal luxuries.

Sumrall filed his civil suit seeking unspecified damages on Feb. 5. The lawsuit names all three criminal defendants and The Russell Foundation Inc., the not-for-profit the ethanol business was supposed to support.

The suit says the men solicited Sumrall's cash to invest both in ethanol production and development of a monorail system. It alleges the men used the funds "in a scheme of unauthorized selling and refinancing of vehicles purchased by The Russell Foundation."

"The titles were fraudulently signed by a law enforcement officer associated with the defendants," the suit alleges.

Bateman, along with Russell, also has agreed to pay back the $1.7 million they obtained from the physician, referred to as A.S. in the indictment filed in December 2011 against Russell, Bateman and Gonzalez.

According to the indictment, Russell approached the physician in January 2007 during a medical appointment about making an investment in an entity later established as Indiana Ethanol Capital Investments LLC. Russell, Bateman and Gonzalez attended several meetings with the doctor at a Denny's restaurant to further sell him on the investment.

Russell told the physician that the ethanol operation could reap an $18.5 million return on a $600,000 investment, and that he would be the last of 12 people to invest in it. In fact, the doctor was the only investor.

Between February 2007 and April 2007, according to court documents, Bateman picked up five checks for the ethanol investment totaling $702,000, most of which was deposited into Bateman’s personal account. The remainder was put into The Russell Foundation account, and later was transferred between that account and Bateman’s personal account.

The trio allegedly spent all but $30,000 of the money, purchasing seven cars, as well as custom clothing, home furnishings, entertainment and “elaborate security details” that included members of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the indictment said.
 

The IBJ is a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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