Saturday, February 04, 2012

White Found Guilty After Offering No Defense

A Hamilton Co. jury found Secretary of State Charlie White guilty of six felony charges they, by law, should have never had presented to them for  consideration. For more than a year, every news reporter and a bunch of hypocritical politicians have been telling everyone who would listen that Charlie White was guilty as charged. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a jury would lack the intelligence to discern that just because a prosecutor said a person committed a crime didn't mean he actually committed a crime. I wasn't able to attend the trial, but I have said before that the facts presented by the special prosecutor as a matter of law did not support the charges against White. It's bad enough that a special prosecutor would over-charge a person with crimes the person could not have legally committed; it's even more disturbing those charges were allowed to go forward to the jury instead of being dismissed or at least reduced. Perhaps most perplexing, though, was a decision by White and his attorney, Carl Brizzi, to offer no defense to the charges. How they could have believed that jurors could put out of their minds the fiction they've been told by the news media for more than a year that he was guilty when they deliberated the charges is beyond my comprehension. When White defended the charges before the state's Recount Commission, he, his wife and ex-wife, all testified. That three-member body learned in the law found unanimously that White was legally registered to vote at his ex-wife's home for that five-month period in question while he was running for secretary of state.

The most disturbing guilty conviction for White is a conviction for theft. That charge was based on the prosecutor's contention that White had illegally drawn a salary of a town council member in Fishers for a several months period when he actually lived outside his district. In recent years, we've seen countless numbers of public officials who were challenged for moving out of their districts and being forced to give up their offices without being criminally charged for their actions. In White's case, although he was elected from a district, he was elected at-large by all of the voters of Fishers. Because town council members serve at-large in Fishers, there had been other cases where a town council member moved outside his district before the end of his term and was allowed to continue serving until the end of his term. More importantly, nobody contends White had stopped performing the duties of his job during the period in question that prosecutors contended that he had moved outside the district. He attended the meetings and otherwise performed the job. What pray tell me did he steal? It is one of the most preposterous criminal charges that could have been brought against White. Former Indianapolis City-County Councilor Patrice Abduallah claimed a boarded up, abandoned house in a district in which he didn't actually reside for nearly four years so he could illegally serve as a council member. He simply resigned after he was caught and was never asked to repay the $15,000 a year he had drawn in salary or faced criminal charges for his actions.

The vote fraud charges against White, which represented four of the charges upon which he was found guilty, are equally as troubling. Based on the facts of his case, you could charge tens of thousands of Indiana voters with vote fraud in every election. One of Charlie White's biggest critics, Gov. Mitch Daniels, is registered to vote in Indianapolis but actually resides in a home in Carmel. Sen. Richard Lugar has been casting votes from a home at which he hasn't resided in more than 35 years without consequence. I've posted below an absentee ballot application Lugar completed in the very same election at which White supposedly committed vote fraud in which Lugar stated under penalties of perjury that he resided at a home he sold in 1977. A copy of the warranty deed representing the sale of Lugar's home is also shown below. Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry has declined to prosecute Lugar for vote fraud, and the state Election's Division has so far refused to investigate a complaint filed with it by certified fraud examiner Greg Wright.

Lugar absentee ballot application signed on 9-20-2010 claiming residence at 3200 Highwoods Court

Warranty deed executed by the Lugars on 7-6-1977 transferring ownership of the 3200 Highwoods Court home

White will face a heavy penalty for doing something tens of thousands of other Indiana voters do every year when they find themselves between homes as a result of a divorce, the sale of their home or a change in jobs. For White, it means the forfeiture of the office to which he was overwhelmingly elected by the state's voters, it could mean jail time and it will likely result in the loss of his license to practice law. Gov. Mitch Daniels gleefully appointed White's chief deputy, Jerry Bonnet, as the interim secretary of state until he can appoint one of his cronies to take over the job permanently. White, according to one reliable source, was offered the opportunity by the special prosecutor to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and resign his office but turned the offer down. If he had no intention of putting on a defense, it would have seem more logical for him to have accepted the plea agreement instead of rolling the dice and coming up with a conviction on six of seven felony charges, any one of which would have been sufficient to force him out of office. Judge Steven Nation could reduce the charges to misdemeanors, but I wouldn't count on it. He could have dismissed most, if not all of the charges against White, prior to trial but he didn't. Why White's attorney didn't move for a directed verdict on at least some of those charges after the prosecution put on its case is something else I will never understand.

The media and the Charlie White haters will jump up and down in celebration of today's verdict. I think it is a very sad day and portends much worse things to come in this country. This case demonstrates how easy it is to make some one's innocent actions appear to be criminal and turn them into a convicted felon. While other elected officials are stripping us of our constitutional rights and plundering the nation with impunity, we're focused on destroying a politician who did nothing worse than committing jay walking. We're all suppose to be entited to equal treatment under the law under our federal and state constitutions. Charlie White, for whatever reason, was never afforded equal treatment under the law. The rule of law in this state took a damaging blow today.


Speak Truth said...

Why do you keep ignoring the fact that this case was brought by a bi-partisan team of special prosecutors, not by one Democratic special prosecutor, as you seem to want your right wing followers to think? You keep just writing "the special prosecutor," and you did a whole write up on the Democrat, Dan Sigler, as if the Republican, John Dowd, didn't just as forcefully prosecute this case. You seem to be having trouble saying bi-partisan team of special prosecutors. Why the trouble?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Dowd turned this investigation over to Sigler and his son to run as they pleased. He was nothing but a placeholder to give the appearance this prosecution was bipartisan. This was all about Sonia Leerkamp getting even with Charlie for stopping her from becoming a judge in Hamilton County. Sonia Leerkamp is the woman who thinks it is perfectly okay for high school boys to rape other young boys through forcible penetration, it's just boys being boys you see. She also let prominent Hamilton Co. residents serve alcohol to underage teens and then let one of the kids drive off drunk and kill himself in a car accident. According to Leerkamp, there is no law that would have allowed her to prosecute the prominent adult hosts of the party. Yet Charlie White has been prosecuted for tougher crimes than either the teen rapists or the delinquent adult who caused the death of a teen. It's a very strange judicial system they have up there in Hamilton County and a very perverted sense of what is right and wrong.

Gary R. Welsh said...

As I also pointed out, Dan Sigler, Sr. did the exact same thing he charged Charlie with doing. He falsely claimed to be living at one address when he in fact was living at his girlfriend's house. You can make the same case that he lied on legal documents and illegally registered to vote other than where he actually lived. He is the absolute biggest hypocrite in this entire matter. He took a break during the grand jury proceedings to switch his registered voting address when it dawned on him he was doing the exact same thing he accused White of doing.

brack said...

I'm not legally gifted, but I can't help wonder if the Super Bowl played a role in the equation. Calling defense witnesses and further deliberation by the jury would have only restricted, to some degree, the amount of festivities one could partake in. Maybe that's naive, but people are selfish enough to think that way.

John Michael Vore said...

This reader prefers the account you give in your reply, here ("Dowd turned...", in coming to an understanding of the White Case, rather than your appeal to "equality before the law," which seems to rarely be an actual aspect of legal proceedings involving politicians and their friends, in Indiana. One hopes for such a situation, as it is, indeed, more-than-suggested by our Constitution, but as one reads Hoosier history, one searches for it, in politically connected cases, without finding much.

In your reply you mine the things which give a context to how Mr. White found himself further outside of the "Republican establishment" than even a State Senator who hired a male prostitute.

While one can admire your loyalty to Mr. White, understanding the political dynamics of the case, I think, helps us all better know what went on here: a most unusual situation in which a state-wide, elected Republican in Indiana actually has faced criminal proceedings and lost. The question has to finally be: what's the deal that's being crafted from all of this? Who wins? What will a real loss be? At what level of appeal will the whole thing be simply thrown out? Will it come down to a new Supreme Court nominee's vote? One cannot ignore that the chosen successor in Marion County Republican politics to Mr. White's lawyer is now on that Supreme Court list...which is of course speculation, but speculation based on what appears to have happened in the past. One secures judgeships for those who will protect one's friends, should they be in need--as they often were, in decades past.

What you write about Sonia Leerkamp matches what we know of Hoosier Republican politics--that pettiness, personal rivalry and ambition mostly trump the law, whether it be moral or legislative. I personally would prefer footnotes that connect the dots, and so as not to leave an interpretation, as it were, supported by stilts. Usually one does not see Republicans held-up by what Mr. White has faced--but by what is suggested about Leerkamp.

As for Mr. Lugar's residency, I feel as if I'm missing something regarding office-holders who serve in Washington, D.C. Surely the law for them was designed to give them the most leniency, as travel to D.C. and working in D.C. require more than the few miles one might have to drive back and forth to a Fishers town council?

Gary R. Welsh said...

It is curious that an official who hasn't defrauded the taxpayers of one dime is prosecuted for multiple felonies, while the most powerful politicians in this state who have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from the taxpayers, conspired with organized crime syndicates and otherwise used government resources as their own personal bank account go without prosecution. Indiana is run more like a third world banana republic than one of the fifty states of the U.S.A. People go to prison every day in this state for crimes they never committed.

As to Mr. Lugar, just because you are a U.S. Senator does not excuse you from complying with the election laws. If you want to register and cast votes in the state you represent in Washington, the U.S. Constitution still mandates that you be an inhabitant of the state you represent, and the state's voting registration laws require that you maintain some form of residence in the state from which you can cast votes as a registered voter of the state. The idea that Mr. Lugar can give up a residence in this state 35 years ago and there is a legal fiction that springs into existence for his sole benefit to make him what he otherwise is not, is bullshit and crap of the first order. It doesn't matter, though, because special rights apply to him. He is not bound by the same laws you, I or Charlie White are bound to follow. Special laws exist for the privileged elite like Richard Lugar, Evan Bayh, Mitch Daniels and many other corrupt politicians who have become multi-millionaires pretending to be engaged in public service in this state.

John Michael Vore said...

It seems you're arguing from apple trees to White's apples. That is, what rotten apples come from certain diseased groves, to the apples put before a jury in Hamilton County, defended by Mr. White's lawyer, the former Marion County Prosecutor.

I want to be careful in responding: we agree that, in Indiana, innocent folks get arrested and convicted, while criminals who produce millions of dollars for their politician friends never even get investigated. We agree that something odd has gone on with the Charlie White case (from something offensive to the very laws of the state, to a Defense strategy which seems squirrelly (to those on the outside). I seconded your follow-up reply which gives some indication of the behind-the-scenes, real-life of the story.

In the 70s, in Indianapolis, a conviction was just one more legal chit in a corrupt system--I think we agree on that. This extended to Johnson County, where Senator Borst, Prosecutor Pearcy and L. Keith Bulen presided. And to Hamilton County, where Deputy Prosecutor New resided, and where Mr. Bulen's still-alive law firm exists, even today. I think we agree on that.

What's left up for grabs? Lugar's residency, which is really out of my depth--and in the face of so much else to look at, of unusual priority, as if Mr. Lugar, at this late-stage of his career, will suffer defeat from a thousand cuts. Also up for grabs: Mr. White's End Strategy, about which I can at least speculate based on Hoosier Republican pasts: who knows, Mr. White's appeal may include an Indiana Supreme Court challenge which involves Republican cronies who throw the whole case out, leaving Mr. White looking like the ultimate victor. That could be considered a long-run victory, perhaps even ensuring a bigger office some day for Mr. White--yet it could not occur without what has happened these past days, about which we still seem to know too little.

guy77money said...

Two possibilities 1.) Brizzi sold White out and made a side deal to keep himself out of trouble. I seriously doubt that happened though.2.) Maybe Brizzi knew that it was a dog and pony show and the fix was in so they figured they would do better in the appeal process Hmmm maybe Brizzi is just one bad lawyer.

Mike Kole said...

To me, the strangest dynamic of this saga starts at the beginning of the trail- the Fishers Town Council. White was hardly the first seated Council member to move from their district. However, in the case of others who had done so while White was a Council member, the map was redrawn to accommodate their moves. Why his colleagues did not do the same for White I'll never know. I would be interested to know if any of those moves violated the law, and in what meaningful way (apart from the redrawing of the map) White's change of residence was different from theirs.

Marycatherine Barton said...

With all the attorneys he could have hired, while being well aware that Governor Daniels and other top Republicans want him out of office, Charlie White chose the well-publicized Carl Brizzi to defend him in court? How stupid of him.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You do not seem to understand that just because something is political does not mean it is also partisan. The "bipartisan" nature of the prosecution team does not defeat mean White's prosecution was not political.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I am still waiting for that law that gives Richard Lugar and his wife the pass on our perjury and voter fraud statutes when it comes to signing documents under oath that they live in a house they sold and vacated 35 years ago. No one seems to be able to provide that statute.

For every other politician, they at least know they have to have someplace they claim as a residence in the district. When it comes to Richard Lugar (and his wife) he thinks he is so far above the law he doesn't even have to do that.

Speak Truth said...

Professor Ogden,

I wasn't saying White's prosecution wasn't politically motivated. I'm just pointing out that politicos on both sides of the aisle went after Charlie, Democrats AND Republicans. As Mr. Welsh pointed out, it really started with the disgruntled, Republican former Hamilton County Prosecutor, not Dan Sigler.

Mr. Welsh,

What are you basing your conclusion that "Dowd turned this investigation over to Sigler" on? Dowd is the one that gave the searing rebuttal where he called White a fraudster. You need to correct the record. This was not one Democratic prosecutor, victimizing White. This was a witch hunt led by Republicans and you know it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It doesn't matter, Paul, because we have a corrupt county prosecutor here in Marion County who sells justice. Terry Curry told us all we needed to know about him when he hired James Kelly's chief deputy as his chief deputy. Kelly had a male prostitute who serviced him working as his grand jury bailiff, who was also a big time drug dealer. The prosecutor's office under Kelly was full of a bunch of drug-using perverts. Kelly was at a big gay drug party in Woodruff Place the same night three of the guys in attendance at the party were murdered and dumped in a corn field up in Hamilton County. The only prosecutor more corrupt than Kelly was his predecessor, Noble Pearcey, who tried to prosecute Star reporters Dick Cady and William Anderson on fabricated charges that they tried to bribe a police officer. Pearcy was trying to get even with the two reporters for exposing how corrupt the Lugar-run police department in Indianapolis was. It's no stretch to say that our police department under Lugar operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of an organized crime syndicate. People have no idea just how corrupt this city and state is. Unfortunately, there are no reporters left in this town who will expose the corruption. They're all in the tank.

John Michael Vore said...

Regarding those 1975 party/parties between Christmas and New Years'--and as a preview of Hoosier Hysteria 7: if they were at 326 Woodruff Place (Middle Drive), home of Deja Vu owners Paul Eckert and John Martin, this is not obvious from contemporaneous news accounts. If they were at 316 Woodruff Place (Middle Drive), the home of two of the murdered men, both employees of Deja Vu--again, this is not clear. Sometime early December 29, 1975 they were shot and killed along with a third man. How and whether or not a fourth Deja Vu employee, Joseph F. Miller, was involved is unclear. Miller would be profiled in August, 1976 by the Star as being an employee of Deja Vu while also working as Grand Jury Bailiff (while also selling amyl nitrate, which he appears to almost market in the stories); contrary to Cady and other sources, Miller was not an employee of James F. Kelley's--as the bailiff is an employee of the courts; Kelley had, according to David Rimstidt in 1976, apparently offered to hire Miller when he resigned as bailiff, but no record existing of this happening. Further: Contemporaneous Star reporting by Dan Thrasher does not indicate a party at the home of the gay couple who was murdered, (316 Woodruff Place, Middle Drive). And that Star article also reported nobody was home at 326 Middle Drive (Eckert-Martin)--and that Eckert and or Martin may have been the intended murder victims on 29 December. As I'll write in the upcoming Hoosier Hysteria series, the Star and News reporting seemed to hang on the smearing of James F. Kelley's association with "homosexuals." As Cady writes in Deadline: Indianapolis, Kelley later passed a polygraph test regarding his "story" of what went on in that train-wreck, tragedy. The truer story may have been that one of those Kelley was said to be meeting at "homosexual haunts" had outed then Chief of Police Eugene Gallagher and other IPD officers: "Gallagher immediately leaked the information that Kelley had sent him a memorandum he interpreted as an attempt to 'threaten and intimidate me.' (Cady, p. 222). Whether or not the outing was cooked-up, or not--and whether or not the murders of the source (Zimmer, manager of competing gay bar: JD's The Ruins), six months after the Woodruff Place triple-murders--is unclear. Veteran Star reporter and later 20/20 producer, Don Thrasher quoted contemporary IPD sources as not believing in the possibility that Mikco Ball could have been the Woodruff Place murderer, by virtue of the difficulties of quickly loading a single-shot shot-gun, and his past as a con-artist. Nevertheless, apparently Mr. Rimstidt, back in the day, prosecuted Ball, who, like Marion County Prosecutor James F. Kelley, was married--and other than an attempted escape from jail in the 80s, he remains imprisoned in Michigan City for the December 1975 triple murders.

I know said...

"People have no idea just how corrupt this city and state is. Unfortunately, there are no reporters left in this town who will expose the corruption. They're all in the tank." as Gary Welsh quotes....


Some of us do. We took the beating for doing business right and got hammered by the legal system protecting this same elitist group of the 1%.

Ask Paul as he is the one that told me we had a great case but the legal system is not always the framework to find justice.

Hmm, back home again in Indiana.

The state smells all the way to D.C. Good luck on ever seeing justice or even knowing the difference between right and wrong in the Indiana legal system.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I read the affidavit Miller signed with my own eyes where Miller stated that Kelley had hired him and that his job was to provide sex to him on demand in consideration for the job and free trips Kelley took him on. As he described the relationship, he was like a young Greek slave that Kelley had purchased at an auction. The prosecutor's office runs the grand jury division. The Star articles actually tried to minimize Kelley's relationship with Miller in those stories because they were aware that at the same time he was warring with a corrupt police department that was out to get him. The newspaper never printed the stuff about Kelley's relationship with Miller as claimed by Miller, which it would have done if its sole purpose was to destroy him.

Gary R. Welsh said...

You also omitted the fact that David Rimstidt was dating Myrta Pulliam at the time. Cady recounts in his book how Myrta called him up and asked him to come over to his house where she introduced him to a guy who went by the name "Doris" who told about Kelley's connection to the triple homicide.

John Michael Vore said...

Thanks for clarification on Miller affidavit, which indicates Miller was involved in gay prostitution, along with drug dealing and the burgeoning poppers business, circa 1975-1980. I'd personally like to see the affidavit circulated on the web; it should be.

However, for Miller to survive, along with every other underworld enterprise from that era, IPD Vice was in on the take. It pressured with one hand, while received your kick-backs with the other. Somehow Miller went from multiple arrests for career-ending activities, yet he stayed in Indianapolis, thrived and became one of its wealthiest citizens.

This is what we cannot forget, though, while investigating historical events: one is always walking on rice paper. Which means: every step in the legal process is not what it seems, must be compared to how it affects those involved (beyond the "facts"), and how those relate in a cost-benefit analysis to those involved in other proceedings up into the political atmosphere. If all politics is local, no local newsworthy event is immune from politics. I mean, c'mon: if what we're saying is true, Joseph F. Miller was a known male prostitute, a human trafficker (in today's definitions), along with being a major pot dealer and poppers manufacturer. And this guy never went to jail? Ever?

If, as I argue in Hoosier Hysteria 7, Kelley was, in fact, a Bulen man--and was being both prodded and prompted by Republican-leaning forces (in IPD, at News under Eugene S., at Star, even inadvertently)--the point was never to destroy him: it was to corral him for use in inoculating Indianapolis against having a Democrat in that office. It's happened only 2x since, and we're living through one new tenure, under Mr. Curry--who, as you note--has brought back Mr. Rimstidt. This makes what happened 30 years ago VERY relevant to what goes on, today. The only way one can understand a political era is to see who, politically speaking, lives and dies--follow the survivors back in time and you get a story. Unfortunately, this story leads to the actual murders of four gay men between December 1975, and June, 1976--in a case that most contemporaries believe was not solved (the Woodruff Place triple-murders) though a conviction came out of it; and in a fourth case which is cold.


Gary R. Welsh said...

That Joe Miller stayed out of jail and thrived financially in Indianapolis is a testament to what I've long concluded--only the people who lie, cheat and steal get ahead in this state and city. It is a backwater hell hole where total snakes thrive.