What a difference five years makes.
In 2002, Will Smith Jr. was working as an influential member of the Lake County Council, Dozier Allen was preparing to leave the Calumet Township trustee's office after 32 years, and Robert Cantrell was running the East Chicago Republican Party in cooperation with Democratic Mayor Robert Pastrick.
Gary Urban Enterprise Association Director Jojuana Meeks was buying buildings hand-picked for her by county tax collector Roosevelt Powell. Gary busnessman Jewell Harris Sr. was enjoying his close relationship with Gary City Hall, and Peggy Holinga Katona was busy running the county treasurer's office that her family had controlled for decades.
Five years later, every one of those officials -- save former Mayor Pastrick -- has since been touched by the U.S. attorney's ongoing Operation Restore Public Integrity investigation.
Pastrick is the target of a racketeering lawsuit from Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter.The effort to fight Lake County corruption has extended into Porter County, where the U.S. attorney's office brought charges of bribery against Pastrick's youngest son, Kevin Pastrick.
In May 2004, Kevin Pastrick was convicted of bribing a carpenter's union official in a scandal over Coffee Creek, a residential and commercial development south of Chesterton.
Carlson lists 42 persons who have been convicted or are awaiting trial, and he says federal and state prosecutors say it's far from over. Here's the hall of shame list:
Jewell Harris Sr., accused of double-billing Gary for debris-hauling work at The Steel Yard stadium.
Bob Cantrell, charged with tax evasion and insurance fraud.
Dozier Allen, Wanda Joshua, Ann Marie Karras, Albert Young Jr., all charged with skimming money from a federal grant to Calumet Township.
Lawrence Meeks, contractor accused of not paying taxes on Gary Urban Enterprise Association income.
1. East Chicago City Councilman Frank Kollintzas, convicted for misappropriation of federal funds, lying to the FBI.
2. East Chicago City Councilman Joe De La Cruz, convicted for misappropriation of federal funds.
3. East Chicago City Controller Edwardo Maldonado, convicted for misappropriation of federal funds. Convicted a second time in July 2006 for using public money to pay his defense attorneys.
4. East Chicago City Councilman Adrian Santos, pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy in connection with the $24 million sidewalks-for-votes case.
5. East Chicago Parks Superintendent Jose Valdez Jr., fraud and conspiracy in connection with the sidewalks-for-votes case.
6. East Chicago City Engineer Pedro Porras, fraud and conspiracy in connection with the sidewalks-for-votes case.
7. Gerry Nannenga, former carpenter's union official, accepting bribes to approve the Coffee Creek land deal.
8. Kevin Pastrick, son of former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick, paying bribes to approve the Coffee Creek land deal.
9. Peter Manous, former Indiana Democratic chairman, paying bribes to approve the Coffee Creek land deal.
10. Carl Paul Ihle Jr., co-owner with Kevin Pastrick of Sand Creek Sales, forging documents and lying about the Coffee Creek land deal.
11. Peter Benjamin, former Lake County auditor and assessor, paying bribes to Lake County Councilman Troy Montgomery.
12. Troy Montgomery, former Lake County councilman, accepting Benjamin's bribes.
13. Joel Markovich, former Lake County councilman and contractor, fraud in connection with the sidewalks-for-votes case.
14. Katie Hall, Gary city clerk, extorting $19,000 in campaign contributions from office employees.
15. Junifer Hall, chief deputy Gary city clerk and daughter of Katie Hall, extorting $19,000 in campaign contributions from office employees.
16. Robert J. Velligan, contractor, tax fraud in connection with the sidewalks-for-votes case.
17. Marilyn and Gregory J. Gill, contractors, tax and bankruptcy fraud in connection with the sidewalks-for-votes case.
18. Dimitrios Sazalis, contractor, tax fraud in connection with the sidewalks-for-votes case.
19. Former East Chicago Police Chief Edward Samuels, ghost employment as a security guard in a city housing project.
20. East Chicago Building Commission Miguel "Mike" Arredondo, ghost employment as a security guard in a city housing project.
21. Gary City Parks Superintendent Kimberly Lyles, lying to federal agents about influence peddling.
22. Assistant County Building Administrator Jan Allison, extortion.
23. G. Gregory Cvitkovich, former North Township trustee, tax fraud.
24. James H. Fife III, a former special assistant to the East Chicago mayor, federal tax fraud.
25. Karen Krahn-Fife, federal tax fraud.
26. East Chicago City Councilman Randall Artis, fraud and conspiracy in connection with the sidewalks-for-votes case.
27. Terrance Artis, brother of Randall Artis and contractor, fraud in connection with the sidewalks-for-votes case.
28. Robert White, Gary city councilman, fraud.
29. Lake County Recorder Morris Carter, extortion.
30. Former Schererville Town Judge Deborah Riga, fraud in using office to personally benefit her family business.
31. Paul Hernandez, union fraud and corruption.
32. Ken Castaldi, union fraud and corruption.
33. Jojuana Meeks, embezzling money from Gary Urban Enterprise Association.
34. Charmaine Pratchett, embezzling money from GUEA.
35. Derrick Earls, embezzling from GUEA board.
36. Johnnie Wright, embezzling from GUEA board.
37. Greg Hill, contractor who didn't report GUEA income.
38. Will Smith Jr., Lake County Council president, tax evasion for a questionable land deal with GUEA.
39. Roosevelt Powell, former delinquent tax collector for Lake County, tax evasion, theft conspiracies involving GUEA land deals.
40. Willie Harris, Gary attorney, tax evasion, theft conspiracies involving GUEA land deals.
41. Nancy Fromm, addiction counselor, lying to federal agents.
42. Otho Lyles III, tax evasion and lying to FBI in Gary City Hall investigation.