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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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