The IBJ is reporting on a plea agreement Randall Sargent entered into with federal prosecutors in connection with his role in the Indy Land Bank kickback scheme involving Ballard administration officials in charge of the program. Sargent, owner and president of New Day Residential Development, becomes the third of five defendants charged in the scheme to plead guilty. He pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud and one charge of bribery. Former Ballard aide John Hawkins and Aaron Reed previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges.
Two remaining defendants, the former Indy Land Bank administrator Reginald Walton and David Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Minority AIDS Coalition, are scheduled to go on trial in March. Walton and Johnson are accused of engaging in self-dealing while assisting the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office in assisting homeowners who were defrauded by Sheila Amos. Walton and Hawkins used their city positions according to federal prosecutors to orchestrate the transfer of real estate to certain nonprofit entities in order to flip the properties for a profit and then kick back money to Walton and Hawkins. Walton is also accused of soliciting kickbacks on a city lawn-mowing contract.
This mess is reflective of Mayor Ballard's judgment of human character. Other than free trips, help for his children, and the promise of a job after leaving office, I doubt that he has personally financially benefited. But, unfortunately, in spite of the great hope many of us had for his administration, he has been a dupe for many schemes that benefit a group of GOP City-County Counselors, Mr. Brooks, and the clients of BTlaw.
If governmental actions are tied to campaign contributions, he doesn't have to personally financially benefit in order to run afoul of the law. Honest services fraud is prosecuted almost everywhere else in this country except the southern district of Indiana.
It appears that all capital purchases are suspect under Ballard.
I honestly hope this blows up into dozens of indictments like Operation Wax House in Charlotte, NC. How far does it go up?!
This investigation goes no further than the people already indicted. Joe Hogsett saw to that before he left the U.S. Attorney's Office. A deal was made for the benefit of the elite insiders who profiteer at the expense of the rest of us. Only the low-level, low-hanging fruit got picked to make the serfs believe their government is looking out for them when there could be nothing further from the truth.
I recall a scheme similar to this being depicted in the TV series "The Sopranos". This must be one of the oldest cons in the book. It probably runs a lot deeper than what's on the surface. Sacrificial lambs.
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