The Porter County
Council on Tuesday tabled a request by County Commissioner John Evans,
R-North, to be reimbursed $5,000 on legal fees he has incurred since the
Federal Burau of Investigation has been looking at activities in Porter
appeared on the agenda as one in the series that the Commissioners submitted
to the Council along with budget transfers for internet and telephone
service fees, employee longevity and jail security payments.
specifically asks the Council’s approval to transfer $5,000 from salaries in
the Commissioner’s General Fund budget to contractual services for legal
Evans was not
present during the meeting but had asked County Attorney Scott McClure to be
there for the request. He told the Chesterton Tribune after the
meeting that he earlier had contacted the Council’s attorney Harold Harper
asking if he could make the request under Indiana Code 36-1-17-3.
Harper agreed that
the law states that a public official “who is the target of a grand jury
investigation may apply to the fiscal body of the unit or municipal
corporation for reimbursement of reasonable and customarily charged expense
incurred by the officer or employee resulting from the grand jury
investigation, if the grand jury fails to indict the officer or employee and
the acts investigated by grand jury within the scope of the official duties
of the officer or employee.”
Evans said he had
no further comment other than what is stated in the law.
Upon learning of
the request, County Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, asked that
Harper see what role the Council has and contact the FBI to see if it is
done investigating Evans.
“I think we need to
know if the investigation is closed,” Whitten said and requested to table
Evan’s request to the Council’s next regular meeting in January.
The FBI has made no
recent indictments in Porter County Government. It did announce indictments
last month for Portage Mayor James Snyder, as well as Lake County Sheriff
John Buncich, on bribery charges and added that their investigations in Lake
and Porter counties are continuing.
has reported on several instances where the FBI has sought documents that
are under the purview of the County Commissioners such as a wellness
contract with Porter Health Systems signed in 2012 and other information
regarding the County employee health care plan.
reported seeing FBI agents enter the Commissioners’ office one morning in
June 2015 but no Commissioner would confirm or deny the reports.
Harper said he will
attempt to get an answer from the FBI but wasn’t sure when it would respond.
McClure said he
does not believe Evans has been reimbursed for any other legal fees. Any
invoice would have to go through the County Auditor’s office, he said.
Vicki Urbanik said the last reimbursement she knows of made to Evans was for
lodging at a conference in 2013.
Evans will be
ending his tenure as a county commissioner at the end of this month after
not seeking reelection this year.
Rivas calls on
mayor to resign
member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, made a statement at the start of the Council’s
regular meeting giving his opinion that Snyder should resign his office as
the mayor of Portage.
Portage in his Council district and said it appears Snyder “has broken the
public’s trust” after being indicted by the FBI on Nov. 17.
Snyder was charged
with two violations of a federal bribery statute and a third charge alleging
a scheme to obstruct Internal Revenue Laws. Rivas said he sympathizes with
the residents of Portage who now have to endure “what could be a long,
Having Snyder under
indictment could make it difficult for him and other City officials to work
on future projects with the County, Rivas said and gave various examples
like remedying drainage issues on Willowcreek Rd., rebuilding the North
County Complex and providing a place to bring animals with the new “no-kill”
County Animal Shelter.
Snyder pled not
guilty in federal court to all counts against him and has made statements to
the press that he intends to fight the charges.