Thursday, September 13, 2012

IBJ Questions Layton's Contracts With Former Sheriffs

The IBJ's J.K. Wall has posted a story today on the IBJ's website questioning the contracts Sheriff John Layton has with his two predecessors, Frank Anderson and Jack Cottey, that pays the pair $35,000 each on an annual basis, an issue I previously discussed here. Layton's high-priced attorney, Kevin Murray, tells Wall that the two were retained to investigate the death of a pregnant inmate after she fell ill at Liberty Hall, which is run by a private contractor, and the two supposedly did such a great job that Layton decided to continue paying them. “This is a great example of how government ought to work—taking advantage of institutional knowledge so that you’re not reinventing the wheel,” said Murray, of the law firm Frost Brown Todd LLC. Here's what I told Wall about the contracts:

But the relationship drew criticism from Gary Welsh, a local attorney who writes the blog Advance Indiana. In a Sept. 9 blog entry, Welsh questioned why Cottey and Anderson were still on the payroll.

“I don't think it is appropriate for the sheriff's office to be paying former sheriffs to provide consulting services for the office. It smacks of cronyism at its worst,” Welsh wrote in an e-mail Thursday morning. “Both individuals are drawing lucrative pensions from their former government service, and neither possesses the appropriate qualifications for the services they are reportedly performing for the office.”

Wall notes some of Cottey's past controversies as sheriff that should have given Layton pause before retaining his services. "His tenure involved several controversial incidents, including an investigative report in 2000 by WTHR-TV (Channel 13) showing Cottey drinking at bars and then driving his county-owned vehicle," Wall writes. "Cottey insisted he never drove while drunk. And, in December 2002, Cottey’s last month as sheriff, he called 911 to complain about his car being towed." There was also that matter of a $250,000 judgment the county had to pay out to a whistleblower employed by the sheriff's office who proved to a federal jury's satisfaction that Cottey had retaliated against him for refusing to falsify crime statistics. The 73-year-old Cottey told Wall that he quit his job with a private security company, which employs many off-duty police officers, when he took the job. “I commend Sheriff Layton for forgetting politics and wanting to get things done,” Cottey said. Here's that infamous video of then-Sheriff Cottey chewing out a tow truck employee after his car was towed for being parked illegally on the Circle.

Some institutional knowledge, eh? My guess is that Frank Anderson was whining that his pension check wasn't big enough to pay the property taxes on the $1 million home on Geist he purchased shortly after becoming sheriff and so he and Murray came up with the bright idea of putting the former Republican sheriff on the payroll with Anderson for political cover. No sane individual believes that either of these elderly retirees is providing any services to the sheriff's office to justify these payments to them. One has a drinking problem and the other can't remember his name. It's nothing but a fleecing of the taxpayers to help out two political cronies.

1 comment:

Paul K. Ogden said...

Frank Anderson was retained to investigate an inmate death at Liberty Hall? You are kidding me.

When Frank Anderson was Sheriff, he flat out refused to investigate inmate deaths and injuries at the jails when he was Sheriff and directly responsible for ensuring that private medical provider complied with their contracts.

Example: One inmate died at Jail #2 for not getting treated for pneumonia. Layed around for days sick and medical staff didn't treat him. I had one client at Jail #2 who didn't get his high blood pressure medicine and died. I had another one at Jail #1 who didn't get his heart medication and died. On every occasion, Frank Anderson was sheriff and he did zero investigation into the deaths and did nothing to the medical providers who failed in their responsibilities.

People, including nurses, continually made Sheriff Anderson about inmates not getting medication, getting the wrong medication, getting expired medication, etc. Frank Anderson's response. He did nothing.

To Sheriff Layton's credit, he did investigate the inmate's death at Liberty Hall and did take action. I highly doubt the response by Sheriff Layton had anything to do with former Sheriff's Anderson and Cottey work on the case.