Chesterton Tribune



Valpo Promenade project getting FBI scrutiny, auditor says

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Porter County Auditor Robert Wichlinski told the Chesterton Tribune this morning that FBI agents have been regularly coming to his office to collect copies of various contracts, payroll information, sales disclosures and other documents since their investigation into local governments began a little less than a year ago.

“They let me know when they want to see something. I just give them what they ask for and don’t ask questions and they don’t tell me anything,” said Wichlinski.

Their most recent visit to the Auditor’s office, late Monday morning according to Wichlinski, was to obtain information related to the Promenade development, located between Lincolnway and LaPorte Ave. to the north of Valparaiso University.

Specifically, the FBI obtained two sales disclosures on the six parcels that make up the promenade and various aerial images of the property generated by the County’s GIS System.

According to Wichlinski, the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission is listed as the seller on sales disclosures and a private developer as the buyer.

The project has been under development since 2010.

Wichlinski said the FBI also asked for a “handful” of other “stuff” Monday, but would only confirm the documents related to promenade as what the FBI sought.

The Auditor’s Office holds copies of tax information from the assessor and recorder’s office, deeds and records for sales transactions across the county, which Wichlinski said is why the FBI frequently consults his office. All the information at the auditor’s office is public record, said Wichlinski, adding that the FBI has not accused him of any wrongdoing.

He said agents make requests for documents “typically every other week” from his office.

Wichlinski in April reported that the FBI asked him for copies of 2013 payroll records of the Expo Center.

The FBI has reportedly visited other offices within the Porter County Administration Building. Last month, agents stopped in at the Voters Registration Office to collect campaign finance reports for Portage Mayor James Snyder.

In March, agents collected copies of building permits for Porter Regional Hospital, and its adjoining medical center, from the Porter County Plan Commission. They also downloaded records from the Plan Commission office from the County’s computer server in the IT office.

In addition, the bureau has sought documents related to the December 2012 contract between the County Commissioners and Porter Hospital for clinical services in the County’s Employee Health Plan, conflict of interest disclosure statements filed in the County Clerk’s office from 2007 to 2013, and project bid proposals related to 2010 and 2011 contracts with the County Highway Department.



Posted 8/13/2014




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