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Judge to decide fate of Sidewalk 6 defendants

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The Indiana Attorney General personally attended a civil racketeering court hearing this morning in Hammond, a rare in-person appearance that comes in the civil case against a former East Chicago mayor and a top aide.

Special prosecutor for the state, Patrick Collins, asked U.S. Senior Judge James T. Moody to enter default judgments against former Mayor Robert Pastrick and James Fife III, who didn't appear today in person or through counsel at the public hearing.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller attended the hearing. It's rare for an elected attorney general to appear personally, but this civil racketeering case is unprecedented and warrants the appearance, agency spokesman Bryan Corbin said.

The judge will likely rule on the case in the next week before considering what possible civil penalties should be assessed, according to the AG's office. A public hearing is scheduled for June 9.

Zoeller has said previously that he doesn't expect the state will be able to collect all of the $24 million at issue in the case, but he hopes the suit will prove how deep the East Chicago corruption ran in those years.

A three-week jury trial was set to begin today, but that was canceled after Pastrick and Fife last week filed notice they wouldn't defend themselves and wanted to waive their jury trial on the state claims brought under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Former Attorney General Steve Carter filed the suit in 2004, alleging that Pastrick and other city officials ran a scheme to illegally spend $24 million of public money in a paving-for-votes program during the May 1999 Democratic mayoral primary election. That scandal eventually led to a federal indictment of more than a dozen of Pastrick's administration officials and contractors. This civil suit sought to recoup the allegedly misspent money, and the Attorney General's Office reports that most defendants have settled and about $1.2 million has been collected from them. The state has also obtained another $18 million in default judgment orders against other defendants.

But defendants Pastrick, Fife, and a former aide Timothy Raykovich were the holdouts. Raykovich settled with the state May 13 - a week before the other two decided not to defend themselves in court - and the charges against Raykovich have been dismissed with prejudice.

According to the public settlement agreement with the Attorney General's Office, Raykovich admitted in an affidavit that as a special assistant to the mayor he had knowledge of the illegal paving contracts prior to the May 1999 primary - contractors were paid based on invalid, expired bids; Fife had pre-existing knowledge of that activity; and Raykovich concluded that the paving program's "primary motivation ... had been to ensure that Mayor Pastrick was re-elected in the 1999 mayoral election."

Though an official gag order hasn't been issued, the judge has instructed parties not to discuss details of the case out of court and so the only public information comes from the public records, court filings, and docket entries.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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