Criminal Justice

Some Corruption Funds Return to East Chicago

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June 6, 2013 — Indiana’s Attorney General is closing the books on a federal corruption lawsuit that indicted dozens of East Chicago politicians. AG Greg Zoeller told residents that today is a day to celebrate, “The ten years are now behind us, and I think today really marks this milestone in restoring the public trust.”

The past ten years to which Zoeller referred included the indictment and conviction of two previous mayors and dozens of city officials for crimes including election fraud and racketeering. Zoeller and current East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland want citizens to know that change has come to city hall. Copeland says the Attorney General has witnessed that change firsthand, “He has the ability to come straight in to the Mayor’s Office now. When he has the ability to go straight into the Council Chambers and be well received is an indication that change has come.”

Copeland says he has instituted several new anti-corruption policies, including ethics training for all employees, stricter bidding requirements for city contracts and greater oversight of the city’s budget. “The reeducation of the workforce itself, some were just little common practices that the workforce did and they took it for granted, they now see is wrong. But it had been done for so long that the wrong had been accepted as right.”

Indiana’s previous attorney general Steve Carter, who introduced the first corruption lawsuit in 2004, responded to questions about the cost of the investigation, “This was a decision of state government to spend some resources to try to fix some things in East Chicago. So it was a conscious decision, and I would flip the question around, too, and say, ‘What was the cost for decades of corruption where it wasn’t taken seriously?’”

Zoeller says of $24,000,000 awarded by the lawsuit $300,000 has been collected. Mayor Copeland says the money will be used for improvements at city parks where all citizens can enjoy the benefits of the recovered funds. “We see that the greater good can be if this money was put into the parks because they are truly enjoyed by the people of East Chicago.”


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