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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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