More resources are dedicated to combat corruption of public officials in Southern Indiana.
U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett and Robert A. Jones, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Indianapolis Division, announced Thursday a further expansion of investigation and prosecution of instances of public corruption in Hoosier communities or counties. Both the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI saying they will continue to make protection of the public trust one of their most significant priorities in the Evansville area and through southwestern Indiana.
Officials announced that just this week, numerous criminal complaints and federal grand jury indictments have been filed as part of this increased commitment. A Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy was charged with use of excessive force and a Greencastle City Council member was charged with perjury and making false statement to federal law enforcement officials. The head of the Henry County Department of Child Services and New Castle Community School Board member, former Senior Project Manager for the City of Bloomington was the subject of a 24 count Criminal Complaint for allegedly embezzling $800,000 in public monies.
"Today, I am proud to reaffirm our Public Corruption Working Group," Hogsett said. "This coordinated effort is historic, in terms of having a singular focus on such an important issue – the integrity of our public offices and officeholders."
In April of 2012, Hogsett announced the formation of the U.S. Attorney's Office's Public Integrity Working Group ("PIWG"), a collaborative effort between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to rid Indiana of the "culture of corruption" that all too often rears its ugly head.
Since its creation, the PIWG has charged 30 public officials for various crimes committed at the local, state and federal levels. 10 of the 30 charged are scheduled for trial in this upcoming year.
Individual defendants include two former Indianapolis city councilors, the former deputy chief of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, local police officers and sheriff's deputies, township level officials, employees of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, as well as employees of the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Postal Service.
"Our message has been consistent, but bears repeating: it doesn't matter what your politics are or who you know," Hogsett noted. "If you violate the public trust, this Working Group will find you, will investigate you and the U.S. Attorney's Office will then prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."
"In spite of the significant success of our efforts against public corruption, we must remain ever vigilant. That is why today the FBI and United States Attorney's Office is making the commitment to add even more resources to this endeavor."
"There is no acceptable level of corruption or abuse of power. To this end, earlier this year, the FBI created a new Public Corruption and Civil Rights squad that will conduct more focused efforts on these violations," stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert A. Jones.
Jones further stated, "Of the over 300 violations of federal criminal law investigated by the FBI, few are more important than civil rights. Color of law violations are especially egregious because they erode the community's trust. The vast majority of police officers are well-trained, professional and exceedingly careful with the use of force. Those few that violate their oath to protect and serve will be held accountable."
Alongside the additional resources pledged by the FBI, Hogsett announced that the United States Attorney's Office will devote more prosecutors to bring alleged violations of the public trust to justice.
The Working Group is ably led by the U.S. Attorney's Office's Senior Litigation Counsel Bradley Blackington and Steven DeBrota. The lead investigative agency, the FBI, is led by Supervisory Special Agent Mark Mahon. These individuals have been assisted significantly by representatives of the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Department of Labor, the Indiana State Police, the Office of the Indiana Inspector General and the State Board of Accounts.
Hogsett acknowledged the critical role that whistleblowers often play in prosecutions of public corruption. He urged anyone with information relating to criminal activity to contact the U.S. Attorney's Office public corruption hotline at (317) 229-2443.
"Very often, public corruption prosecutions can be traced back to one anonymous tip," Hogsett added. "We encourage anyone with knowledge of such behavior to contact the Working Group through this hotline."
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