Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Glass House Of Charlie White's Prosecutor

Daniel Siglar, Sr.
Piecing together circumstantial evidence of where he claims Secretary of State Charlie White actually lived for a five-month period while he was running for statewide office in 2010 and still serving as a town council member in Fishers, the lead prosecutor in the case against Charlie White, Daniel Sigler, Sr., convinced a Hamilton Co. grand jury to indict White on seven felony counts, including counts of vote fraud, perjury, mortgage fraud, marriage application license fraud and theft. [Paul Ogden has a good post on the absurdity of these charges here.] In opening arguments today, the prosecutor told jurors hearing the case that began this week in a Hamilton County court that White had engaged in deceit and cheated to make it appear that he lived somewhere other than where he actually lived during this five-month period when he was in between marriages and homes in order to continue serving as a town council member in Fishers while running for statewide office. It's an interesting tale, and one that mirrors the tale that I'm about to tell you about Dan Sigler, Sr., the very man standing in front of jurors in Hamilton County accusing White of multiple felonies.

Sigler, a Democrat, served five terms as the prosecuting attorney for Adams County, Indiana from 1979 to 1999. He currently is a partner at the Columbia City law firm of Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather. Sigler primarily works as a civil litigator and as a mediator, but he has also served as the Whitley County Attorney for several years. On occasion, he has served in an appointed capacity as a special prosecutor in high profile cases like Charlie White's case and the 2007 case of Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Matt Kelty that resulted Kelty pleading to felony charges of violating Indiana's campaign finance laws.

In 2006, Sigler fell out of love with his wife, Nancy, and in love with another woman, Fort Wayne family law attorney Sherrie Hampshire. On September 26, 2006, Sigler filed a petition for dissolution of his marriage to Nancy pro se in the Elkhart County circuit court rather than in Whitley County where he and his wife had resided and where Indiana's divorce law presumes jurisdiction to hear the case, unless his role as the county attorney posed a potential conflict with the judge who would have presided over his case. Sigler's wife was represented by Fort Wayne attorney Daniel Borgmann. Sigler and his wife reached a settlement agreement as quickly as Indiana law permits and a divorce decree was entered a little more than 60 days later on November 29, 2006. According to the court records, Sigler agreed to pay $30,000 to Nancy as part of the property equalization agreement the couple voluntarily entered into after waiving a final hearing in their divorce case.

When Sigler filed his petition for divorce in September, 2006, he listed his residence as 7828 Huguenard Road in Fort Wayne, a short distance from where his subsequent wife, Sherrie Hampshire lived. Sigler's wife Nancy listed her address as 183 N. Wildthorne Court in Columbia City, a home she had purchased on her own on August 22, 2005, a year prior to Sigler filing the divorce petition in Elkhart County. Sigler and Nancy were both registered to vote at their marital residence at 1753 North Wilson Lake Road. Nancy claimed a homestead exemption on the 183 N. Wildthorne Court home she purchased in 2005, but three years later, voting records indicate that she was still voting from the marital residence she owned with her ex-husband. White relates that Sigler told his wife's attorney during his investigation that he could charge her with vote fraud as well but wasn't going to because in his words, "you would have to go after everyone." Sigler told her attorney that White had to be charged because of "who he is." The divorcing couple sold that home on 1753 North Wilson Lake Road on January 27, 2006, eight months before Sigler filed for divorce, to another couple, Andrew and Elizabeth Varga, who registered to vote at that address and did in fact vote from it at the 2006, 2008 and 2010 general elections.

Despite claiming under penalties of perjury that he was residing in Fort Wayne when he filed his petition for dissolution of his marriage, Sigler continued to maintain a registered voting address at 1753 North Wilson Lake in Columbia City until September, 2008. Two and a half years after selling the marital residence, Sigler finally got around to changing his voter registration to the 7828 Huguenard Road in Fort Wayne, a rental home owned by Gerry and Patricia Lydy. Curiously, Sigler's change of voting address occurred after he had been named as a special prosecutor at the request of the Allen County Prosecutor in Fort Wayne to prosecute the campaign finance case against Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Matt Kelty.

It gets even more interesting. Sigler and his then-girlfriend, Sherrie Hampshire, purchased a $227,000 vacation home in Saugatuck, Michigan on August 3, 2007, less than 9 months after his divorce to Nancy was final, that the unmarried couple represented to be a "second home" that was "owner occupied." Sigler and Hampshire took out a 30-year mortgage on the Saugatuck home. According to Allegan County, Michigan property tax records, tax bills for the home were mailed to Daniel J. Siglar, Sr. and Sherrie Hampshire at 8024 Sorrel Lane in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the home which Hampshire had purchased in April, 2005 and at which she had been registered to vote since November 16, 2005. In November, 2008, Sigler voted using the 7828 Huguengard address in Fort Wayne despite representations he had made in other legal documents that he was residing with Hampshire at 8024 Sorrel Lane in Fort Wayne.

Sigler and Hampshire were married in Saugatuck, Michigan on July 10, 2010, nearly three years after he and Hampshire purchased their vacation home together and represented their primary residence as 8024 Sorrel Lane. Where did Sigler represent on his marriage application that he lived? You guessed it. Sigler used the 7828 Huguenard Road address despite representations in other legal documents that he was living with Hampshire at 8024 Sorrel Lane. When Sigler discovered that White was checking into his marriage record in Michigan, he complained to his attorney that "he didn't appreciate it." No small wonder. Voting registration records show that another couple registered in 2010 to vote at 7828 Hugenard Road. Jay and Kris Fawver registered to vote at that address on September 8, 2010. When does Sigler finally get around to changing his registered voting address to 8024 Sorrel Lane? On February 28, 2011, Sigler took a break in between the second and third day of the grand jury proceedings he was leading against Charlie White to finally change his registered voting address to 8024 Sorrel Lane where he had received tax bills for the Saugatuck home in his name for nearly four years. Gee, I wonder why he chose that particular time to change his registered voting address?

These facts were all ascertained in an independent investigation Charlie White conducted on his own time at his own expense based on tips he had received that Sigler was living in a glass house. Based on the evidence he gathered and the interpretation of the law given to grand jurors in White's case, White concluded that there was evidence supporting a number of criminal charges against Sigler, including vote fraud, marriage license application fraud and mortgage fraud, the same charges Sigler convinced a grand jury in Hamilton County to bring against White. White surmised that Sigler didn't want folks in Whitley County where he was the county attorney to know that he no longer lived within the county and had moved in with his girlfriend, who would later become his wife. White turned over the evidence he gathered to Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, who declined to prosecute the case. She claimed there was no evidence "to suggest a criminal act took place", obviously applying a different legal standard than the one Sigler applied to White.

It also cannot be overlooked the differing approaches Sigler has taken in these high profile cases he has prosecuted against public officials. In 1985, Sigler was named as a special prosecutor in the campaign finance violation case involving then-Fort Wayne Mayor Win Moses, a Democrat. Although Sigler had more than enough evidence to prosecute Moses on felony charges, he entered into a plea agreement whereby Moses was allowed to plead guilty to reckless disregard of the campaign finance law, a misdemeanor and resign from office. Because Sigler didn't press a felony charge against him, Moses days later allowed his name to be placed in nomination when Democratic precinct committeepersons met in Fort Wayne to choose his successor. Moses won the party election and resumed the office from which he had just resigned. Later, Moses would be elected to represent a Fort Wayne district in the Indiana House of Representatives. As I've documented previously, Moses and his wife for years lived in a luxury home on Indianapolis' northside while claiming a registered voting address at an apartment in Fort Wayne. When Charlie White's case became big news, Moses and his wife put their Indianapolis home up for sale and claimed they no longer lived there.

In 2007, Sigler was far less charitable to a Republican mayoral candidate, Matt Kelty. Sigler wasted no time in convincing a grand jury to indict Kelty just three months before the November election on 7 felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of campaign finance-related charges. A trial couldn't be held until after the November election, but the looming criminal charges doomed Kelty's campaign, which he lost to Tom Henry, 60%-40%. Nearly a year after losing the race, Kelty, who by that point had become personaly bankrupt from all of the legal expenses he spent defending the charges brought by Sigler, pleaded guilty to three of the nine charges Sigler had filed against him. He received no jail time under the terms of his plea agreement and paid a $750 fine. As a consequence of his plea agreement, Kelty can never seek public office in Indiana again. If Sigler gets his way, White will not only lose his office but also his right to run for office again and his law license to boot. Sigler is a hypocrite of the first order. Let's hope and pray the jurors in that Hamilton County courtroom can see through this high tech lynching of White by Sigler, the hypocritical politicians and the mainstream news media in this state with less than pure motives who are also seeking his removal from office. If a criminal case every cried out for jury nullification, this one fits the bill.

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