Tuesday, June 05, 2012

FBI Raids Lake County Surveyor's Office

The Northwest Indiana Times is reporting that federal agents began seizing documents from the Lake County Surveyor's Office this morning as part of an ongoing investigation. George Van Til, a Democrat, is running for re-election this year to a sixth term as the Lake Co. Surveyor. The report doesn't indicate the nature of the investigation.
FBI and state police investigators were removing official documents this afternoon from the office of Lake County Surveyor George Van Til.
An anonymous employee of the Lake County Government Center said law enforcement officials arrived 10 a.m. Tuesday and have been carrying out documents and what appears to be computer equipment from the office.
"This is a total surprise to me and I'm not really aware of exactly what's going on or what the authorities are looking for, or at," Van Til said in a statement to reporters just before 3 p.m. today.
"I can't answer any questions at this time. We will assess this situation later. It's important for everyone not to jump to any conclusions. This is not the first time the FBI has been in a governmental office here, nor will it be the last time, I'm sure. Sometimes, things have come from these visits; sometimes, not. Do not rush to any kind of judgment."
Lake County Attorney John Dull said today he doesn't know what federal authorities are looking for. He said he suspects authorities served a "subpoena instanter" on the office, meaning Van Til must immediately surrender whatever records they are demanding.
He said he first learned of the raid this morning when an employee in the government center called him to report the FBI was removing boxes from the surveyor's office.
Men wearing jackets emblazoned with "FBI" and "Indiana State Police" were frequently entering and leaving the office, according to the source.
UPDATE: The Times has updated its story. It looks like the investigation may have to do with allegations that Van Til was using government resources for political purposes:

An anonymous county government employee said he had heard federal authorities are looking into allegations of campaigning with public property.
Van Til, who has been surveyor since his first election in 1992, just finished a bruising campaign to win renomination for a sixth four-year term in office. He defeated John Garcia May 8 by fewer than 2,300 votes. He faces Republican Eric Krieg in the general election this fall.
Krieg issued a statement Tuesday: "While we cannot yet know why the FBI raided Mr. Van Til's office, they don't generally do it for innocent reasons. This is yet another stain on the record of Lake County, the kind of thing that hurts our reputation and makes it more difficult to recruit companies to relocate here. It is also in line with the other unethical behavior that Mr. Van Til has been guilty of in the past."
Van Til came under public scrutiny in 2007 for lending a new county pickup truck to his teenage son to drive to school and for ordering a county employee to pump county gasoline into one of Van Til's personal vehicles.

No comments: