Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lake County Coroner and Sheriff's Deputies Charged In Separate Public Corruption Cases

The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Indiana today announced a string of indictments against Lake Co. Cororner Thomas Philpot and three sheriff's deputies. Philpot is accused of misappropriating funds during his service as Lake Co. Clerk prior to becoming the county's coroner. Three sheriff's deputies are accused of misusing their positions to acquire high-powered automatic weapons and lasers for resale on the Internet for a profit. The Northwest Indiana Times has the details:

The charges against Philpot, from his previous term as Lake County clerk, include mail fraud, theft and misappropriation of funds. Authorities said the misappropriation of funds amounted to a little less than $25,000 from the county's 4D child support program . . .
Additionally, in a separate six-county indictment, three Lake County police officers were indicted. Sgt. Joseph Kumstar and Officers Ronald Slusser and Edward Kabella are alleged to have misused their positions at the Sheriff's Department to obtain machine guns and laser sights, then sold them on the Internet for profit.
The U.S. attorney said all three officers have agreed to plead guilty to all counts and will be making statements in the coming days.
The investigation of Sheriff's Department officers started in late 2009, when the U.S. Department of Defense received a call from a concerned citizen that machine guns were missing from the Lake County Sheriff's Department inventory, the U.S. attorney said.
The three officers allegedly had falsely misrepresented that they were buying the machine guns for the Sheriff's Department. They falsified letters and shipment orders with Lake County Sheriff's Department letterhead.
When the guns were to be delivered to the Sheriff's Department, they were intercepted and taken to Slusser's house instead, the U.S. attorney said.
The indictment alleges 74 machine guns were acquired illegally. Kumstar expressed intent to buy 50 fully automatic handguns for use by the Lake County Sheriff's Department in a letter dated Dec. 22, 2008, on Lake County Sheriff's Department paper. Four parts from that order were recovered in Canada.


CircleCityScribe said...

What would John Gregg say about this? Would he say that because Democrats in Lake County are involved in yet another federal corruption case that it is "divisive"

Jon said...

Isn't this also a federal violation? You need a federal firearms license to buy and own any fully automatic weapon.

Gary R. Welsh said...

As I understand it, they were making it appear the guns and lasers were being purchased by the Sheriff's Department. They were then breaking the guns down and selling the component parts over the Internet that people couldn't otherwise purchase that could be used to retrofit guns they could legally possess. Based on the unreported income charges against them, they were making a pretty sweet buck from the sales.