The sentence of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department major and city-county counselor convicted last year for attempted extortion and bribery for his role in trying to get zoning approval for a proposed strip club has been upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Lincoln Plowman claimed that he should have been allowed to argue entrapment to the jury, which the District Court precluded.
While on the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council in 2009, Plowman was chairman of the committee that oversees zoning in the county and city. During this time, the FBI set up a sting operation based on Plowman’s reputation for his “questionable use of the power and influence he had acquired,” according to the 7th Circuit opinion. The FBI undercover officer posed as strip club owner who wanted to open a club in Indianapolis. During their meetings, Plowman told the undercover officer that for “a couple bucks” he knew how to “push” the strip club through the board of zoning appeals. He sought $5,000 in cash and a contribution to his campaign.
The two met over the course of several months, and when the FBI entered the room during one of their meetings, the agents didn’t arrest him. He retired from the police force in March 2010. In September 2010, a federal grand jury indicted him with federal funds bribery and attempted extortion under color of official right. The government sought to preclude Plowman from presenting an entrapment defense. Judge Larry McKinney refused to issue an entrapment instruction to the jury as Plowman wanted, and he granted the government’s motion in limine. Plowman was convicted in September 2011.
The transcripts of Plowman’s conversations with the undercover FBI agent “overwhelmingly show that Plowman was not entrapped into accepting the bribe,” Judge Daniel Manion wrote.
The 7th Circuit held that McKinney correctly concluded that there was insufficient evidence that the government induced Plowman to accept the bribe, and at no time did the undercover agent mislead Plowman into thinking that Plowman was performing a legal business service.
“The FBI conducted a standard sting operation that did not induce Plowman to accept a bribe. To argue entrapment to a jury, Plowman needed to provide sufficient evidence of both inducement and a lack of predisposition, but he failed to establish the first element,” Manion wrote in United States of America v. Lincoln Plowman,