In a city that is about an hour from the Indianapolis area, two more people have been arrested in ongoing federal probe of what are allegedly shady business deals involving many in the local government.
In the most recent arrests, the many overseeing the city’s sewer system was detained and then charged in federal court for tampering with witnesses and also creating false documents. The man has since been placed on administrative leave from his position. His office was searched by federal agents earlier on in this investigation.
Another man, a private businessman in the area, was arrested for bank fraud and is also accused of lying to federal investigators and obstructing justice.
In connection with this same investigation, the city’s former building commissioner has pled guilty to fraud charges.
This case all stems from a project, initiated by the local government, to buy up property in an area that is prone to flooding. While this was process was thought to be less expensive than repairing a nearby levee that was showing signs of failure, it did involve some contracted demolition work as well as the cost of buying the affected properties.
The investigation seems to be focused around the fact that some individuals, including those affiliated with the local government, managed to profit considerably off of the sale of the land and the demolition work, some of which was allegedly overbilled or not completed.
It is important to remember in the course of this story first of all that just about any local official, even the most ethical, can get accused of unlawful favoritism and corruption, simply because they will inevitably interact on a professional basis with people whom they know.
However, even if something looks bad, not every case of questionable or even outright poor judgment on the part of an official is a state or federal crime. Just like anyone else, public servants can be in the wrong place at the wrong time.