Friday, December 19, 2014

More Lake County Officials Face Charges For Using Public Office For Political Purposes

Former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett and Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry may fail to see criminal wrongdoing in former Education Supt. Tony Bennett and key employees of his office engaging in political activities on state time and using state resources for political purposes, but the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Indiana has no impediment to bringing criminal charges for similar conduct. Today, charges were filed against Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin and three key employees in her office for fraud and extortion for using taxpayer resources for political gain according to the Northwest Indiana Times.

According to the Times, the case laid out by federal prosecutors says Elgin expected her employees to either purchase or sell campaign fundraising tickets, enlist subordinates to sell fundraising tickets during government office hours and placing employees who couldn't afford the ticket prices on payment plans. Employees who failed to cooperate were threatened with unfavorable treatment by their supervisors, including unfavorable work assignments or layoffs. The indictments came with just two weeks left in Elgin's term as township trustee. Elgin is charged with wire fraud, extortion, tax offenses and making false statements to federal agents. Three other employees, Ethel Shelton, Steven Hunter, who is Elgin's son, and Wheeler, also face wire fraud and extortion charges.

The system devised by Elgin required employees to either sell a certain number of tickets or buy them based upon their pay scale. Employees tried to skirt laws prohibiting campaign activities during normal office hours by claiming they were on break while performing such duties according to the indictment. Inter-office memos were circulated admonishing employees of the office not to engage in political activity on government time to conceal their illegal activities. According to the indictment, elements of the crimes began when Elgin first took office in 2003 and extended through 2014.

Last year, the northern district prosecutor brought similar charges against former Lake Co. Surveyor George Van Till to which he later pleaded guilty. The state's Inspector General David Thomas sent a complaint, along with about a dozen binders filled with evidence, laying out a case for prosecution on either federal or state grounds to the offices of former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett and Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry last February, neither of which acted upon that information. Curry denied receiving the evidence from Thomas until a reporter confronted him with evidence of an employee in his office acknowledging receipt of the evidence, at which time he acknowledged the possibility the files may have been misplaced. Hogsett has declined to comment on his inaction in the case, but he seems to have been rewarded by that decision and others. The Marion Co. Republicans appear poised to throw the mayor's race next year to him by failing to field a serious challenger to succeed outgoing Republican Mayor Greg Ballard.


Anonymous said...

Yet another reason to follow the recommendation of the Commission on Local Government Reform and eliminate Township government in Indiana!

This also shows that the corruption of Democrats should be classified as an epidemic, and perhaps The Democratic Party should be charged under Racketeering Laws.

"Corruption is as corruption does."

-The Democrat Machine

Anonymous said...

Lake County is the armpit of Indiana...but at least the U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana is doing his job!

-The former U. S. Attorney for The Southern District, Joe "I Wanna Be Mayor" Hogsett, is a total loser in comparison...just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

This kind of activity goes on in almost every county, even in R controlled counties, but nobody complains about it and if
someone complains, it is ignored.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:29 - I challenge you to back up your statement with facts? -You can't!

In Northern Indiana the U. S. Attorney does his job. Not so much in the Southern District of Indiana.

Time after time, Democrats (many, if not most at the Township level) are being convicted of crimes of corruption.

BTW, what party is the Harrison Twp Volunteer Fire Chief of Morgan County, that resides in the mansion that the FBI raided last Tuesday?