Saturday, September 25, 2010

East Chicago Mayor George Pabey Found Guilty Of Conspiracy And Theft In Public Corruption Trial

Pabey (right) with his attorney, Scott King (center) and Jose Camacho's defense lawyer, William Padula
East Chicago Mayor George Pabey had to wait only 2 1/2 hours to learn his fate in a public corruption trial against him and his former city supervisor, Jose Camacho, in a Hammond federal court. A jury found the two guilty of theft and conspiracy charges stemming from the use of public funds for improvements to a home owned by Pabey in Gary. The Northwest Indiana Times' Sarah Tompkins reported on Pabey's conviction:

A jury of nine women and three men found prosecutors met the burden of proof in showing Camacho and Pabey conspired to use city money to revamp a house Pabey bought thee years ago in the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary. Prosecutors claimed Camacho used city accounts with Pabey's blessing to purchase home improvement items for the residence, and that Camacho instructed city employees to work on the home while on the city's clock . . .

City Controller Charlie "Tuna" Pacurar became interim mayor Friday under a 2008 Indiana law that ousts felons from elected office as soon as they are convicted. His term will last until Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., as chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, conducts of caucus of East Chicago Democratic precinct committeemen. They will elect someone to fill the remaining 15 months of Pabey's term . . .

Camacho's defense attorney, William Padula, said he and his client were "pleased" and "grateful" jurors acquitted Camacho of the witness tampering charges, after Padula pointed to conflicting employee testimony about whether Camacho told them to lie to federal investigators. Padula did not contest the government's evidence of conspiracy and theft . . .

Bell said the government will seek forfeiture of the Gary house, which means prosecutors will try to take back anything Pabey and Camacho gained through their criminal activity.

Pabey bought the brick home in Gary's Miller Beach neighborhood in 2007 for $67,000, according to county records. A real estate appraiser testified that the home now is appraised at $135,000. It is on the market for $124,900 but originally was listed for $149,000 in September 2009 . . .

Pabey's predecessor, Robert Pastrick, served for more than 30 years before Pabey defeated him in a special election in 2004. The Indiana Supreme Court had called for another vote after investigating allegations of rampant absentee ballot fraud.

When Pabey took office, he pledged to reform the city and get rid of the shady politics best characterized by the 1999 sidewalks-for-votes scandal that led to federal convictions against three city councilman and an additional trio of Pastrick aides.

Although Pabey's predecessor, Robert Pastrick was never charged criminally in his sidewalks-for-votes scandal that did result in a number of East Chicago officials being sent to federal prison, Pastrick and two of his former allies were ordered to repay city taxpayers $108 million in a federal civil RICO case brought against them by the Indiana Attorney General. Pastrick and his aides declined to defend themselves in the civil lawsuit. After the verdict awarding $108 million to the city, Attorney General Greg Zoeller commented:

"This case is historic; never before has a city government been adjudged a corrupt organization under federal racketeering laws," Zoeller said.

"This is a victory for the state of Indiana," Zoeller said.

The Attorney General's office continues to pursue casino revenues from the riverboat casino that operates in East Chicago that flow to a a nonprofit set up by Pastrick, Second Centuries, which he believes was used to enrich Pastrick and his associates. It is ironic that Pabey faces jail time for relatively small sins compared to Pastrick, who lived like an emperor among the serfs of his kingdom during his several decade-long corrupt rein in East Chicago, and who faced no jail time for his criminal conduct.

1 comment:

Citizen Kane said...

All it took for me was to see the number of employees there were in East Chicago to know that the city was as corrupt as them come. The fact that Pastrick is not in jail is criminal, but then again, I feel the same way about Goldsmith, Peterson and now Ballard.