Thursday, February 26, 2009

Something for New Attorney General Greg Zoeller to Investigate - His Own Office

A couple years ago, I represented Susie Talevski, an attorney who was suing her former boss, Democrat Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, in a wrongful termination/whistleblowing action filed in the Indiana Federal Court, Northern District. Talevski was a deputy prosecutor who worked out of the Hammond child support office. One of the “employees” in the office is a self-described political for vote-getter for Prosecutor Carter in East Chicago. The man is also the uncle of a Democrat Lake County judge.

The man received a full-time salary, yet according to my client, only came in late in the afternoon for a few hours during which he spent most of his time reading the paper and on the phone making calls in Spanish. Although he carried the title of child support caseworker, unlike the other case workers, my client saw that he had no files in his office or computer on his desk to track the cases. My client, concerned that ghost employment was taking place, asked him which cases he was handling and he could not identify a single one. Rather she was told that she needed to talk to Prosecutor Carter if there was any question what work he did around the office.

When I worked for Attorney General Linley Pearson during the late 1980s, he took the position he could decline representation in matters of public corruption and therefore we would always first investigate ghost employment charges before jumping into representing the elected official involved. Steve Carter’s office, however, did no initial investigation. (I would note that when I later had my own whistleblowing case involving the Department of Insurance, the AG’s Office didn't do an investigation either, although that didn't stop the AG from sending a form letter saying that an "investigation" had been conducted in denying my tort claim.) The AG's office now refuses to provide any information as to this supposed investigation, probably because none was ever conducted.) When my client filed her wrongful discharge/whistleblowing case, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office immediately went after her with a vengeance. There was no effort whatsoever to look into whether my client was telling the truth about ghost employment in the Lake County Prosecutor's Office. Rather they put about four deputies on the case and engaged in some of the most abusive discovery practices you can imagine. The man hours the Attorney General’s Office was willing to devote on that one case to discrediting my client were astonishing.

After awhile I took a job with the Department of Insurance and discontinued my private practice. Before I left the case though, I delivered a digital recorder on which Ms. Talevski had used to record the final meeting that had resulted in her termination, to the Attorney General's Office. None of my computer experts had been able to figure out how to copy the recording and it was past due pursuant to a discovery request. I emailed the main Deputy Attorney General (DAG) working on the case that I was dropping the recorder off at her office on the condition that after they made a recording and/or a transcript, it would be returned. I also included a note with the recorder. Never in my wildest imagination though did I expect the events that followed.

A few months later, my former client forwarded me an email from that DAG where she had written my client claiming she had no idea how the recorder got to the Attorney General’s Office and thus, she would not return it because of the suspicious nature of its arrival. Her claim to not know where the recorder came from was, of course, a lie.

My client, an attorney herself who by then was representing herself, obtained an order from a federal judge for the AG’s office to return the recorder. However, instead of returning the recorder as ordered by the court, the Attorney General’s Office immediately had the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District execute a federal grand jury warrant for the recorder. (My guess is that the U.S. Attorney’s Office simply did it as a favor to the Attorney General’s Office without fully realizing what was going on.) The DAG then filed the subpoena with the federal court and claimed the recorder was being subpoenaed because my client was under a grand jury investigation into my client for wiretap fraud. There had been no mention of that in the subpoena executed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

There are a couple problems with that. First, it is a crime to publish a federal grand jury subpoena which is supposed to be secret. The second problem is that there never was any grand jury investigation of my client for wiretap fraud or any other crime. The recording was not remotely a ‘wiretap” nor was it illegal to do what she did. The DAG had lied to the federal udge about the supposed grand jury investigation in order to avoid returning the digital recorder.

Apparently there was a good reason why the AG’s office did not want to return the digital recorder to my client. With the subpoena, the recorder went to the FBI. The FBI agent found that the recording of the hour long plus termination meeting was no longer on the recorder. Whoever erased the recording did not erase anything on the recorder immediately before or after the recording of the termination meeting; only the hour long plus meeting had been erased. So much for an accidental erasure. Given the chain of custody from me (and I listened to the recording right before I gave it to the Attorney General’ Office) to the AG to the FBI, almost certainly the destruction of evidence was done by an employee of the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

So let’s recap. The AG’s office made no effort to investigate allegations of ghost employment in the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office before launching into a full frontal attack on my client. The AG’s office obtained a grand jury subpoena for the recorder under dubious circumstances, in an obvious attempt to circumvent a federal court order. The DAG published the subpoena in violation of the law and lied to the court, falsely telling a federal judge that the subpoena was because my former client was being investigated by a federal grand jury for wiretap fraud. Finally, it is almost certain that someone in the Attorney General’s Office erased the recording, destroying evidence. We’re not just talking ethical lapses in the AG's Office. We're talking about criminal activity, most likely the commission of felonies.

Oh, and during this time the main DAG on the case received a promotion and nearly doubled her pay to approximately $85,000 a year. She is still listed as a supervisor at the AG’s Office..

Greg Zoeller needs to do a full investigation of how the Attorney General’s office handled this case. The people who were involved in this attempted cover up need to be fired and the results of his investigation turned over to the U.S. Attorney and Marion County Prosecutor for criminal prosecution. There should be zero tolerance for this sort of conduct, conduct, which along with the involvement of ghost employment in Lake County Prosecutor's Office, may well reflect more widespread public corruption. If Attorney General Zoeller wants help in investigating this matter, he has my phone number.

8 comments:

Diana Vice said...

The AG should clean house. There needs to be a full investigation and whoever erased that tape should follow the footsteps of former President Richard Nixon and resign in disgrace.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Resignation isn't good enough. They need to be terminated and then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Any attorneys involved need to also be disbarred.

Diana Vice said...

Agreed, Paul. The resignation would be the starting point, for sure. These kind of lawyers give the profession a bad name. The type of lawyer that you and Gary Welsh are is what gives people hope that there is an honest lawyer out there somewhere.

Diana Vice said...

So, Paul, this is pretty serious stuff. Do you have any idea who may have erased that tape? I'm not asking for you to reveal names of suspects. I'm just asking if you have an idea in your head or any leads as to who might have done the dirty deed.

Paul K. Ogden said...

DV, my guess it was done by the main DAG, or done under her direction. Or was ordered by a certain former very high ranking person in Carter's office who left during the middle of the case. That's why Zoeller should be doing an investigation.

There is about a 99% chance that recording was erased by someone in the AG's office.

burlingtonasacoach said...

Paul
You may get tired of me beating a dead horse but once again I tell you that Indianapolis and Indiana are full of criminal judges who are sending taxpayers to prison and or jail and keeping them there for kickbacks. It explains the weird behavior on the bench and the refusal to follow the law and the constitutions. Read this story and see for yourself that it is and is does happen where the judge sitting on the bench controlling the justice that comes from the court is tainted by the kickback they are receiving.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us/13judge.html?_r=1

Leslie Sourwine is going to insist that an investigation be undertaken of Hill and Hamilton, the two judges sitting under my radar right now. While I'm at it maybe the Mayor and city council and GIB need to be investigated as well. Hmm we are surrounded by criminals!

Paul K. Ogden said...

Leslie,

Actually this case didn't involve misconduct by judges so much as misconduct by certain attorneys. Granted the judge involved should have had zero tolerance when they heard about the possibility the AG's office destroyed evidence.

burlingtonasacoach said...

Paul

That's the problem. Judges allow attorneys to cross the line between obeying the law and upholding professional ethics. The attorney that destroyed the evidence should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!

Leslie