Chesterton Tribune

FBI agents search Lake County surveyor office

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CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — FBI and state police investigators searched a county government office in a northwestern Indiana county with a long history of public corruption and left with several computers and boxes of documents.

It wasn’t clear what the investigation involved. At least nine officers took part in the search that took about four hours Tuesday at the Lake County surveyor’s office in Crown Point, The Times of Munster reported.

County Attorney John Dull said the investigators had a court order for the search, but didn’t give him a copy.

Surveyor George Van Til said he didn’t know what the investigation was about.

“This is a total surprise to me, and I’m not really aware of exactly what’s going on or what the authorities are looking for, or at,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office didn’t immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Wednesday.

The surveyor’s office oversees flood control projects and has spent millions of dollars on the county’s computerized Geographic Information System.

Van Til is a Democrat who was first elected county surveyor in 1992 and is seeking re-election this year in the state’s second-most populous county. He previously was a member of the Lake County Council and the Highland Town Council.

Van Til said he couldn’t yet answer questions about the office raid.

“It’s important for everyone not to jump to any conclusions,” he said. “This is not the first time the FBI has been in a governmental office here, nor will it be the last time, I’m sure. Sometimes, things have come from these visits; sometimes, not.”

Federal officials have won convictions against numerous Lake County political figures on corruption charges in recent years, including former East Chicago Mayor George Pabey, former U.S. Rep. and Gary City Clerk Katie Hall and former Indiana Democratic Chairman Peter Manous.


Posted 6/6/2012