Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Federal Prosecutor Not Afraid To Go After Politicians

The Gary Post-Tribune's Andy Grimm recounts how U.S. Attorney Joseph Van Bokkelan for the Northern District of Indiana, who steps down next week to become a federal judge, was not afraid to prosecute corrupt politicians in Northern Indiana. Grimm writes:

They seemed to be everywhere, the men in dark suits, collecting banker's boxes of files. Everywhere Lake County politicians congregated.

FBI agents swarmed over the Lake County Government Center like ants on a sugar heap. They were in city halls in East Chicago and Gary. Town Hall in Schererville. The North Township Trustee's offices.

And then came the Friday news conferences, with U.S. Attorney Joseph Van Bokkelen smiling broadly over a podium, announcing federal charges against Gary Clerk Katie Hall. A half dozen East Chicago pols. The son of political demigod Robert A. Pastrick.

Entire constellations of political stars have dimmed, and sometimes flickered out, since Van Bokkelen was appointed in 2001.

The Operation Restore Public Integrity probe that began with the indictment of Katie Hall for extorting money from her staff in the clerk's office -- a generations-old tradition in Lake County politics, she complained then and now -- has made Van Bokkelen one of the most prominent figures in Northwest Indiana.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Attorney post here in Indianapolis has traditionally gone to someone with strong political ties who is a part of a establishment that protects both corrupt Democratic and Republican politicians from the scrutiny they warrant. The current occupant of the office regularly announces prosecutions of small-time drug dealers and dishonest business owners defrauding unsuspecting consumers, but public corruption cases never seem to catch her eye. You would think our local politicians must be clean as a whistle, but in reality, some of them are just as corrupt as the northwest Indiana pols Van Bokkelen prosecuted in recent years.

In Chicago, the public has been blessed by Patrick Fitzgerald, who successfully prosecuted Scooter Libby, only to see the man who appointed him to office commute his sentence. Fitzgerald has also prosecuted former Illinois Gov. George Ryan (R) and countless associates of Mayor Richard Daley (D), and he is currently investigating Gov. Rod Blagoyevich (D).

It is extremely frustrating to witness so many cases of public corruption among our own Indianapolis/Marion City-County government and township governments being reported in local media and area blogs and not see any of those cases followed up by our local U.S. Attorney's office.


Anonymous said...

We need a U. S. Attorney to look into the ghost employment of city council members Vern Brown & Monroe Gray, who are 'chiefs' on the fire dept with no responsibility, and a take-home car.

Look into Center Twp Trustee, the Center Twp Constable, and see what he finds.

How about The Machine, where all decisions are made with a knod & wink...where the variance to put a bar in a government building comes from the council majority leader's wife.

We need someone who knows Old Chicago, because it looks like present day Indianapolis has that corruption.

Anonymous said...

We need someone who knows Old Chicago, because it looks like present day Indianapolis has that corruption.

It has always been here. The only reason it is now coming to light is because of the instant availability and free flow of information. Back in the 80s, if one wanted to see what was going on, you had print and TV media...period. If the right people got taken care of, certain things would never see the light of day. This is why I do support term limits. Yes, we may lose some awsome folks, but honestly, how many elected officials do we really consider awsome?

Jacob Perry said...

Patrick Fitzgerald was responsible for one of the most egregious cases of prosecutorial misconduct outside of Durham, North Carolina. I'm not sure that holding him up as some sort of special example is a very wise idea, but what do I know?

Continuing to pursue someone and create a case when you knew from the very outset that no crime had been committed is an outrage. Even an immigration attorney should know that.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Are you kidding, Scribe. Libby was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on numerous counts by a D.C. jury. Libby is as sleazy as they come in Washington. He's the one who negotiated the Clinton pardon for Marc Rich--the biggest convicted tax felon in the history of the U.S. Later, Rich became one of the biggest contributors to the Clinton presidential library. I wonder what Libby's fee was for helping Rich with the pardon? If Fitzgerald wanted to play tough, he could have indicted Karl Rove and other White House aides as well.

Anonymous said...

We need FBI investigators here.
Maybe they already are!!!!

Jacob Perry said...

Gary, just because Libby is a slimeball (and he is)doesn't mean that Fitzgerald wasn't completely over the top in pursuing an investigation into something THAT WASN'T A CRIME...and he knew it when he began the "investigation".

Found guilty by a jury, what does that matter? You think O.J. wasn't guilty? Do you really think the Duke boys would've been acquitted? I sure as hell don't.

You think that because he was sleazy and found guilty therefore Fitzgerald wasn't guilty of overzealous prosecution? The three aren't related, yet that seems to be the heart of your case. I require a little more evidence than that.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Libby was found guilty of lying on numerous occasions to law enforcement officers and the grand jury during thd course of the investigation. Fitzgerald chose to prosecute him for perjury as opposed to outing a spy because of the inherent debate over disclosing national security secrets during the course of the prosecution of the latter crime. The latter prosecution would have resulted in protracted legal wranglings. You may not like it, but it is a crime to lie to federal investigators and grand jurors investigating an alleged crime.

Anonymous said...

Gary is right: it is a crime to lie to the feds.

Especially when the current examples of Bushies getting in trouble, is a simple memory lapse.

If Libby was infected with the Rove-Gonzalez disease, he'd be a free man today, not in need or presidential pardon.

"I don't recall" is the legacy of Bush. And whether you're lying when you say it or not, it's very difficult for federal lawyers to get around it. Memory loss is a double-negative to prove/disprove.

Why didn't Libby just forget, instead of lie?

Because he's a clever DC insider. Having negotiated for Mr. Rich and many others in the past, Libby knew that if he put something on the table other than "I Don't Recall," Bush couldn't later pull the rug out from under him.

In short, I suspect Mr. Libby knew exactly what he was doing, and his lies were a part of a clever scheme to secure his future. He knew Bush would pardon or commute his sentence.

The minute he walks out of this mess, Libby will be fodder for the neocon talk shows and book/lecture tours. Law license or not, he'll be a wealthy man. Look at that convict Oliver North. He's worth millions. Ditto Gordon Liddy.

Hmmmm...Liddy, Libby...conspiracy theorists take heed of the simlar names!

David C Roach said...

I'm still waiting for the heads to start rolling( and theres a lot of them) up here in allen County- The local authorities have know about illegal gambling rackets- cherrymasters; sports betting in bars, betting pools, on-line betting, and all kinds or nefarious activities and scams run under the cover of "legitimate government powers- Police pretext stops; unconstitutional dui patrols, Crooked landlords, and courts, and collection agencies,
Its time for regime change in this "rogue regime". the rule of law is broken here. white collar crime is rampant. I wouldnt relocate a business, or corporation here- The cops are like a soviet state. They target out-of-town cars, and drivers, partying here. They sit in radar speed traps, . They sit down the road from nightclubs ; arresting OWI's- under the legal limit; but still arrest them anyway "Like shooting fish in a barrell, as one local cop said.
I coule go on, but you get the drift.
Michigan city will be chock full of local politicians, cops, jhudges, lawyers, for years to come, due to all the white collar crime.
I've been trying to get some justice here for years, and end up like a soviet dissident- harassed, jailed, and worse.
I'm effectively blacklisted, and black-balled . As they say "I'll never eat lunch in this town again"
And I'm the one who's in the right.
Fort wayne- rotten to the core. time to take out the trash- white collar criminals, racketeers, and politicians.