ILNews

Sidewalk 6 trial off; judge to decide penalty

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Less than a week before a state civil racketeering trial was set to begin, a former East Chicago mayor and one of his closest aides have waived their right to defend themselves before a jury in court.

That means U.S. Senior Judge James Moody will decide the fates of former Mayor Robert Pastrick and James Fife III, the only remaining defendants in the four-year-old "Sidewalk 6" suit that was the first of its kind in Indiana and involved a paving-for-votes scandal dating to 1999.

A trial was scheduled to start May 26 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, and was expected to last three weeks. The judge will now decide the case and rule on the amount of damages Pastrick and Fife must pay back to the city and state.

Papers filed Wednesday by Pastrick's attorney, Michael W. Bosch of Highland, and Fife, pro se, indicate they waived their right to a jury trial and that they wouldn't wage a defense in court. The move comes a week after a third co-defendant and former city official, Timothy Raykovich, settled with the Indiana Attorney General's Office and was removed as a defendant.

The case was filed in 2004 under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and alleged that Pastrick 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, but Pastrick, Fife, and Raykovich were never criminally charged.

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.

Inheriting the case from his predecessor, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has said 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.

Attorneys involved in the case are bound by a gag order and not allowed to speak about details, so the only public information comes from the court filings and docket entries.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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