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Sidewalk Six defendant settles with state

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What began a decade ago and became known as the Sidewalk Six paving-for-votes scandal is now nearing an end as one of the three remaining defendants in the civil racketeering case has settled with the state.

On Friday, U.S. Judge James Moody dismissed former East Chicago city official Timothy Raykovich from the state suit. A status report filed May 13 shows that he reached an agreement in principle earlier in the week, as did contractor Calumet Concrete, who was named as a defendant in the suit.

Now, Pastrick and one of his top aides, James Fife III, are the two remaining defendants in the case and the Indiana Attorney General's Office notes in court filings that they aren't likely to settle before trial despite continuing "good faith" negotiations. Their estimated three-week trial is set to begin May 26 in federal court in Hammond.

Attorneys are bound by a gag order in the case and not allowed to speak about details, so the only public information comes from the court filings and docket entries. Chicago attorney Patrick M. Collins with Perkins Coie is acting as a special deputy for the state Attorney General's Office on this case. Highland attorney Michael W. Bosch represents Pastrick and Fife is representing himself, according to court filings.

The case was filed in 2004 under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and alleged that former East Chicago Mayor Pastrick and multiple city officials and contractors spent $24 million of public money in a paving-for-votes scheme during the May 1999 Democratic mayoral primary election. Many settled, but Pastrick, Raykovich, and James Fife III did not and the trio wasn't criminally charged.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has said 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.

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