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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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