Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bankruptcy Trustee Accuses Councilor Bateman Of Taking Over One Million Dollars From Foundation

WRTV's Jack Rinehart first broke the story more than a year ago about how City-County Councilor Paul Bateman and other may have bilked a local non-profit organization, the Russell Foundation, out of more than one million dollars. Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi declined to investigate, saying he had referred the matter to local U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison's office, where the investigation has languished since. A federal banruptcy trustee, however, is taking action to recover $1.3 million missing from the group from Bateman and others according to the Star's Jon Murray. As part of the alleged scam, Bateman and others are accused of cheating Dr. Arthur Sumrall out of $1.7 million, his entire life's savings. Murray writes:
Court filings contend that Paul Bateman, a Northeastside Democrat, was among at least eight people connected with The Russell Foundation who used its money on personal expenses, leading the economic development group into bankruptcy by May 2008.
Bateman, who has denied any financial abuse, is accused of misspending the largest amount. The others, including the foundation's founder, the Rev. Michael Russell, allegedly misspent a combined $600,000, according to complaints filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis in recent months.

Bateman, Russell and Manuel Gonzalez, a Carmel business consultant, were named in search warrants served in July 2008 by Marion County grand jury investigators.
Russell sparked the investigation by reporting the missing money to the prosecutor's investigation unit after the bankruptcy was filed, according to his lawyer.

No criminal charges have been filed, but the recent bankruptcy filings mark the first public attempt to assign financial responsibility for the foundation's decline.
So what did Bateman and his alleged co-conspirators do with the money? The bankruptcy trustee offers us a hint:

Court filings show Russell's group spent money on dress clothes and other perks for its volunteers. It purchased more than a dozen vehicles, including a stable of 2007 Dodge Caliber compacts, a 2007 Cadillac Escalade and several pickup trucks.
Another expense: $29,634.45 in dental costs for Russell, which he addressed in a response to the court last week, denying any misuse.

You can find earlier posts on the Russell Foundation here, here and here.


Corruption in Indianapolis said...

I have received some info that Patty Holman and Big Will Benjiman are some how connected to this mess...It will be interesting to see how IMPD covers it

Concerned Taxpayer said...

I recently heard a current City County Councillor state that "there is more to the story than was reported in the Star."
I wonder what that means.