October 18, 2018-US Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch has announced that he will hold a press conference tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. While the release did not state the reason for the press conference, press conferences are generally held for high profile cases. Rumor and speculation regarding investigation into corruption in Gary has reached a fever pitch this week but there it is unknown whether this announcement relates to that investigation or not.
The FBI has several high profile matters involving public corruption currently pending which could be newsworthy:
- Former City of Gary employee Monique Bowling-Boyd was charged in a scheme to steal approximately $1.5M in computers and electronics from the City of Gary in 2015. Bowling-Boyd has pleaded not guilty and no other individuals have been charged in the incident. At one point Bowling-Boyd claimed to be unable to speak and sought to be declared to stand trial.
- Former Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin pleaded guilty to 2 counts of wire fraud and was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day in jail in May, 2018.
- Former Gary School Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt was recently charged with theft as a result of double billing for a lavish conference at a $329/night hotel in California. The State Board of Accounts later released another report asking Pruitt to repay reimbursements totalling over $7,000.
- Gary Common Council Member LaVetta Sparks-Wade discovered serious discrepancies in accounting for the Gary Ambulance/EMS Fund in May of this year. While Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has stated the transfers were not criminal, the lack of proper accounting standards likely led Federal Investigators to look more closely.
- The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program recently audited the Gary Blight Elimination Program. The Gary Blight Elimination Program was the recipient of approximately $1.2M in ambulance/ems funds.
- The State Board of Accounts recently discovered that “a bag of money” was missing at Marquette Park in Gary. An audit discovered over $7,000 in missing funds.
It is important to note that the press conference may not be about public corruption at all.
All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. A criminal charge is not evidence of guilt.